HABITAT

LEGAL/FINANCIAL

For board members and property managers of co-ops and condos in New York City, there are legal and financial questions regarding new and old laws, accounting rules, auditing, and so much more. Here’s what you need to know to manage your finances and speak knowledgeably with your accountant and attorney.

 

Speaking of Tribeca, check out 5 Franklin Place. Work there is finally reaching the end, reports YIMBY. But it's what's on the inside that counts, and despite the outside showing "the cladding and window installation are complete, interior work appears to be ongoing." It shouldn't be long, however, for this 20-story building with 53 condominiums to be finalized. Wonder what the ticket price will be.

Photo of 5 Franklin Place by Tectonic

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It sounds like one of those Internet "clickbait" headlines, doesn't it? Except in this case that headline is pretty accurate. In a sampling of banks large and small, ChaseCitibank, and TD Bank all refused to comment about this "foreclosure trick." What are they going to say? "Congratulations! You got us! Condo boards really can foreclose on apartments in arrears faster than we can, and thus gain leverage over us."

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Okay, so a discussion about balancing budgets may not win any Most Exciting Topic awards, but knowing how to do it can translate to good financial health for your co-op or condo building.

I Was Told There Would Be No Math

Hey, being on a board can't be all glitz and glamour! You're going to have to crunch some numbers. But don't worry! We're here to help break it down for you. So, first things first: a good budget covers the building's annual income and expenses and attempts to maintain a strong reserve fund for future capital projects. And you'll need to differentiate between "operating" and "non-operating." 

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It's always been about a race to top in New York, hasn't it? When the Chrysler Building was being constructed, William Van Alen — the architect who designed it — was in a race against H. Craig Severance's building at 40 Wall Street. After Severance increased the height of his building and gave it the title of the world's tallest building, Van Alen got the green light for the Chrysler's telltale 125-foot-long spire. It beat 40 Wall Street as the tallest building in the world (not to mention the Eiffel Tower as the tallest structure). But the first man-made structure to stand taller than 1,000 feet would hold the title for only 11 months, because then rose the Empire State Building, and then… You get the picture. Fast-forward to the present, and not surprisingly, it's still a race to the top. Who will dominate New York City's iconic skyline? Lately, it's the residential giants — the luxury condo towers, such as the ones on Billionaires Row. The Real Deal sized up the "supertalls" recently: "At 1,396 feet high, 432 Park overtook Extell Development's 1,004-foot-tall One57 earlier this year. But Extell is now on track to reclaim the title. Extell's latest "supertall" building, dubbed Central Park Tower, is scheduled to top out at 1,550 feet in 2019. What's more, the tower will reportedly have a record $4.4 billion sellout." But, asks TRD, can that race really continue? Is it feasible (or wise) for these tall, skinny towers to keep rising all over the city? Maybe there will be a slowdown, but as long as there's a way, we bet developers will keep trying to reach higher.

"Chrysler Building at night" by David Shankbone. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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There's a gas leak. And in swoops Con Edison to shut the gas off and leave the dreaded red tag behind. You may be gasless for weeks, if not months. So what happens next?

Well, the first step, and probably the most important thing that your board can do, is to start communicating. It sounds so obvious. The challenge at the beginning, though, is that you don't have anything to say except the obvious: we have no gas. 

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Despite it being in Tribeca, 149 Church Street isn't exactly memorable or remarkable. "With a bland façade featuring windows pockmarked by inefficient air conditioning units," writes YIMBY, "its demolition will usher in a brighter and more productive future for the lot, and while its use is still the same, 30 Warren will certainly be both denser and better than what existed before." That's right. It was so meh, that it's not just getting demolished to make way for new shiny condos. It's getting a new address: 30 Warren Street. According to YIMBY, "Cape Advisors is developing the site, while Post-Office Architectes is serving as the project’s design architect. The building will stand 12 floors tall, and will have 44,830 square feet of condominiums and 5,578 square feet of ground-floor retail [and] takes up the entire blockfront on Church between Warren and Chambers Streets." So, what do you think? The extruded elements, which YIMBY compares with 12 Warren Street, another condo rising just a block away, make the building look like a Jenga tower. But maybe that's just us. 

Rendering by Post-Office Architectes

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The Benefits of Having Biannual Meetings

Written by Tom Soter on October 06, 2015

New York City, Forest Hills

 

Jeff Glasser loves his annual shareholder meetings so much that he has them twice a year. "We have one official meeting, which is our annual meeting, and then we have a budget informational meeting the first week of December," reports the board president at the 128-unit Normandy co-op in Forest Hills, Queens. "In November, the board makes a final decision as to what the budget will look like, and if and how much of a maintenance increase there might be. Then we present that budget to the shareholders at our meeting in early December."

You heard that right: a board member who actually enjoys the building-wide get-togethers, those sessions that occur every year, which usually deliver frustrating and/or debilitating challenges to boards. 

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New York City is beyond crowded. And sometimes the city's layout doesn't really help matters. Take this week's Ask Real Estate column in The New York Times, for example. A bus rider in the Upper East Side writes, "A sign in front of an East 79th Street condominium building reads: 'Please do not touch the poles and do not stand underneath the awning as it blocks the entrance to the building. Thank you.' This sign is in front of the M79 bus stop. Is this legal? Does the building 'own' the sidewalk? Can it enforce this request? Should the condo remove the sign?" Oh, boy… Ronda Kaysen responds that while the condo owns the awning, it doesn't own the sidewalk beneath it. Technically, it can't stop anyone from standing there, but it's also "free to post a request on its private property — [just as] a pedestrian standing on a public sidewalk is free to ignore it." It's easy to see how tense a situation like this can get. A better solution, suggests Kaysen, might be for the building and its residents to request a bus shelter by contacting the Department of Transportation's street furniture department. It's a win-win for all. Bus riders will get the shelter they seek and building residents won't have blocked access to the entrance. Sometimes a little thinking outside the box makes life pleasant for everybody. 

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Red-Tagged: A Condo Copes with Being Gasless

Written by Carol J. Ott on October 05, 2015

Chelsea

"The alteration was approved. He was installing a basic floor," recalls Dee DeGrushe, account manager at Orsid Realty. It was early April, and she had no reason to suspect that events would quickly turn from something mundane into something momentous.

But they did.

While the contractor was hammering a nail into the floor, he accidentally banged into a gas pipe running underneath. He punctured it. "You could immediately smell it," DeGrushe says, "and you could hear the 'shh' sound." The contractor came screaming out of the apartment. DeGrushe was at the building in under 20 minutes. Within the hour, Chelsea Seventh Condominium was "red-tagged" by Con Edison, and the gas shut off to the entire building. The 120-unit condominium, located at 170 West 23rd Street, would remain gasless for the next four months.

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With all the new construction happening everywhere you turn in Manhattan — and co-op and condo prices dipping slightly again in August — you have to get a little creative when it comes to grabbing the attention of potential buyers. William Reue Architecture wanted to inject a sense of human scale into the open rooms of a newly constructed $12 million West Village townhouse at 372 West 11th Street. To that end, the architectural firm collaborated with Norbert Waysberg, the building's developer, to commission a dance that would be performed inside the building. The final result is the four-minute video "Elevation," an art-performance piece that seeks to explain the building in a kinetic way, much more descriptive, real, and alive than any photographs ever could. Is this the beginning of a new trend in real-estate sales? The tone in this one certainly speaks to the luxury market set. It may still be, however, something for co-op and condo boards to keep an eye on when they have their own spaces to sell.

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Ask the Experts

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Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments

Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise

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