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Unit-owners Sue Central Part West Condo Board Over Costly Improvements

Upper West Side, Manhattan

Condo board, lawsuit, unit-owners, common charges, state Supreme Court.

Unit-owners and the condo board at war at the Vaux on Central Park West.

March 10, 2023

Angry unit-owners at the Vaux, a 413-unit postwar high-rise condominium at Central Park West at 97th Street, have taken the condo board to court in a dispute over the cost of a heating upgrade and repairs to elevators and balconies.

“Many unit owners of the building may soon be unable to afford their units that they have lived in for decades and raised their families in, simply because the current board seeks to modernize the building,” according to a lawsuit filed this week against the seven-member condo board in state Supreme Court in Manhattan, Crain's reports.

The dispute has been brewing for years. In 2017 the board decided to upgrade the elevator cabs in the 19-story building by installing fans, raising ceilings and adding glass tiles. But the tiles soon started cracking, requiring pricey repairs, a scenario that the plaintiffs in the case call an “unmitigated disaster.”

A heating-system upgrade, which calls for installing a co-generation power source, was supposed to follow in 2018. But years later the $860,000 effort is apparently still not done, meaning promised savings for heating bills have not materialized even as residents have been billed for the costs, according to the lawsuit.

Among the more scandalous allegations is that a board member who lives on the first floor has used the construction of the co-gen system as a cover for a pet project to relocate noisy pipes.

But the plaintiffs’ biggest beef appears to be with a planned project to replace the metal railings on the Vaux’s balconies with glass panels, a $4 million undertaking that will improve only about half of the condo’s 413 apartments. Five of the seven board members live in apartments that have balconies, which is why the board is pushing for the upgrades, the lawsuit alleges.

“Ongoing unlawful conduct [has] had very severe financial consequences for all unit-owners,” the lawsuit claims.

Six other apartments were listed for sale at the Vaux yesterday, according to StreetEasy. Those units ranged from $625,000 for a studio to $1.6 million for a two-bedroom. The range in common charges was from $630 to $870 a month. Those are "very severe" financial consequences?

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