New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide




The Congresswoman’s Daughter and the Renovation From Hell

Upper West Side, Manhattan

Reno from Hell

The townhouse at 32 West 76th Street before The Renovation From Hell began (image via Google Maps)

Sept. 22, 2017

It’s hard to overstate the importance of an iron-clad alteration agreement in New York City co-ops and condos. Ideally, the document lays out the scope of allowable work in apartment-combining and alteration projects; establishes who foots which bills; sets time limits and fines, as well as a mechanism for boards to monitor the work and make sure it’s being done in accordance with the alteration agreement.

But the best alteration agreement is no protection against what’s happening on West 76th Street in Manhattan: The Townhouse Renovation From Hell that has dragged on for almost three years and is driving neighbors to distraction. 

Joseph Bolanos, who lives next door to the four-story townhouse at 32 West 76th Street that’s undergoing a gut renovation, says he and other neighbors have lodged complaints throughout the renovation process that started in January 2015, citing noise and dust pollution they say have diminished the block’s quality of life, DNAinfo reports. One neighbor describes the project as “horrifically annoying.” 

“The issue here is that [the developer] has no supervision of the contractor. The contractor is chronically bad and dangerous,” says Bolanos, who is also the president of the West 76th Street Park Block Association. Bolanos’ efforts have led to two stop-work orders and $7,200 in fines from the Department of Buildings. “We take an active stance in protecting our block and residents," he says.

To make matters worse, political influence might be contributing to the problem. The townhouse was purchased in 2014 by the developer Dana Lowey Luttway, who is the daughter of Westchester County Democratic congresswoman Nita Lowey. Says Bolanos, "It would be naive to think that somehow political connections don't have a play in this."

Luttway, who paid $10 million for the townhouse, shoots back: “If you want this project done, then muzzle Joe Bolanos and get him out of the way. Joe Bolanos is a menace.”

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