New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide




Being on your co-op or condo board carries a lot of responsibility, liability, and, let's face it, headaches.

From building repairs and maintenance, energy upgrades, insurance, lobby redesigns, accounting and financing - the challenges facing co-op and condominium board directors are endless. In this series, Habitat Magazine editors interview New York City experts to learn how problems have been solved at their client co-op and condo buildings. We take a deep dive into the issues being confronted, the possibilities for solutions, the costs, the challenges, and the outcomes.

April 4, 2023
Season 1
Episode 20

Budgeting in Real Time

Between high inflation, rising expenses, and the lingering effects of the pandemic, it’s never been harder for co-op and condos to balance their budgets. Carl Cesarano, principal at the accounting firm Cesarano & Khan, explains how boards can navigate today’s challenging landscape — whether negotiating commercial leases, refinancing the mortgage or trimming expenses — by evaluating and readjusting their options in real time. Carl Cesarano is interviewed by Paula Chin of Habitat Magazine.

Brace yourself for the next cycle of New York City’s facade inspection program, because projects are becoming top heavy with soft costs. Take the initial inspection. In the past that could cost a 15-story co-op or condo $9,000, now it’s anywhere from $31,000 to $53,000. That’s only the start, and you haven’t even replaced one brick. In this episode, Eugene Ferrara, president of the consulting and engineering firm JMA Consultants, explains how to navigate this difficult, and costly, market. Eugene Ferrara is interviewed by Paula Chin for Habitat Magazine.

February 8, 2023
Season 1
Episode 14

Riding the Solar Roller Coaster

It’s no surprise that it’s hard to keep up with programs and subsidies involving solar energy; the industry changes so fast that it’s jokingly referred to as the solar coaster. In this episode, Russell Wilcox, founder and CEO of the solar developer Urban Energy, describes “Behind the Meters,” a configuration that flows electricity directly to apartments rather than into the wider electric grid. Russell Wilcox is interviewed by Paula Chin for Habitat Magazine.

When a condo is governed by a board with competing interests, getting things fixed can be slow going. At one such Manhattan condo ongoing water infiltration from a public plaza was compromising structural integrity of a below grade parking garage. Figuring out what needed to be fixed and getting the approval from owners with different interests and involvement, well, that’s not an easy task. Kevin Bone, principal at Bone/Levine Architects, tells the story of what needed to be done and how, ultimately, all agreed to do it.  Kevin Bone is interviewed by Carol Ott of Habitat Magazine.

March 7, 2023
Season 1
Episode 17

Hot Water Without the Wait

When apartment residents have to wait 15 to 20 minutes for hot water to reach them, it’s not only a nightmare but it’s wasteful and expensive. In this episode, Peter Varsalona, principal and vice president at RAND Engineering & Architecture, outlines the fix at one Manhattan condo to recirculate the water at a faster pace and cut costs in doing so. Peter Varsalona is interviewed by Habitat's Carol Ott.

A Westchester condo thought it had an insurance deal from a new carrier. But after the carrier inspected the property, it decided the physical conditions weren’t up to snuff and it wanted to walk, leaving the condo in the lurch. In this episode, Jason Schiciano, co-president at Levitt-Fuirst Insurance, explains what happened next, and offers some words of insurance wisdom to others who might be facing the same situation. Jason Schiciano is interviewed by Bill Morris for Habitat Magazine.

March 15, 2023
Season 1
Episode 18

Don’t Get Squeezed on Liability Insurance

It’s much more difficult for co-ops and condos to get a good general liability insurance policy today. There are fewer carriers, coverage is shrinking and price tags are growing. In this episode, Jonathan Steward, vice president at OSA Insurance Brokerage Services, explains what co-op and condo boards need to do to find an affordable carrier in this challenging market. Jonathan Steward is interviewed by Carol Ott for Habitat Magazine.

January 12, 2023
Season 1
Episode 11

Insurance Gaps Happen More Often Than You Think

When it comes to property insurance, co-op and condo boards can’t be too careful about making sure they are adequately protected. In this episode, Gina Corso, business account manager at the insurance firm Mackoul Risk Solutions, tells the story of how one oceanfront condo discovered its carrier didn’t cover its beachfront exposure — and had to scramble to find a solution. Gina Corso is interviewed by Paula Chin for Habitat Magazine.

May 10, 2023
Season 1
Episode 24

Elevator Repairs: It’s Complicated

Unforeseen problems, delays, cost overruns — elevator repair jobs rarely go off without a hitch, which can cause big dents in a building's repair budget. In today’s episode, Donald Gelestino, president at Champion Elevator, shares two cautionary tales that offer the same lesson: When tackling elevator repairs, you’d be wise to expect the unexpected. Donald Gelestino is interviewed by Paula Chin of Habitat Magazine.

May 17, 2023
Season 1
Episode 25

A Bronx Success Story: All About Energy

It takes a motivated board — or at least one motivated board member — to jump-start energy reduction projects. That describes a Bronx board president, who not only wanted to improve his building’s energy performance but also wanted to reduce the operating costs for shareholders. Thomas Morrison, director of energy management at the engineering firm En-Power Group, describes how this mission was accomplished in an interview with Bill Morris of Habitat Magazine.

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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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