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.

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.

February 1, 2023
Season 1
Episode 13

Avoiding The Mortgage Refinancing Mistake

Among the many financing decisions facing co-op and condo boards, refinancing the property's underlying mortgage — which is typically done to pay for capital repairs — is one of the most challenging, and complicated. In this episode, Harley Seligman, senior vice president at the National Cooperative Bank, sheds light on the biggest misstep boards make when refinancing  — which is not borrowing enough. Harvey Seligman is interviewed by Paula Chin for Habitat Magazine.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but co-op and condo boards can save money by doing major building repair projects back-to-back. Leon Geoxavier, senior project manager at Howard Zimmerman Architects, and Evan Petkanas, president of STONE Engineering & Architecture, are here to tell us how one building facing both a roof replacement and facade repairs did just that. The price tag was hefty, but smaller than if the projects had been done separately. Leon Geoxavier and Evan Petkanas are interviewed by Bill Morris 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.

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.

December 14, 2022
Season 1
Episode 9

Banishing Brown Water

It’s not just unsightly — the brown water coming out of the taps in your building contains particles and sediment that can damage everything from your basement boilers all the way up to your rooftop water tank. In this episode, Spencer Kraus, vice president of Fred Smith Plumbing & Heating, explains how to stop brown water at the source before it damages your building’s plumbing systems. Spencer Kraus is interviewed by Bill Morris for Habitat Magazine.

December 7, 2022
Season 1
Episode 8

Building a Better Doorman Station

Location is everything, as they say, and that includes doorman stations. In older co-op and condo buildings, they are often situated in places that make the doorman's job a lot harder, especially when the doorman is also responsible for accepting packages. In this episode, Marilyn Sygrove, president of Sygrove Associates Design Group, shares how one co-op renovated its old, dysfunctional doorman station into one that works for today’s requirements. Marilyn Sygrove is interviewed by Paula Chin for Habitat Magazine.

November 30, 2022
Season 1
Episode 7

Taking Your Building’s Energy Pulse

If you’re concerned about your building’s energy use, and particularly if you want to lower it, you’ll need to pay attention to its systems. Not just when something breaks, but all the time. Technology can do that, allowing data to be collected so that systems can be adjusted and monitored for performance. Darren Johnson, account manager at Bright Power, an energy management company, explains how the smart technology works and how buildings can take advantage of it. Darren Johnson is interviewed by Carol Ott for Habitat Magazine.

To meet the high cost of maintaining condo properties, boards often have to make the hard choice between borrowing money or imposing assessments on unit-owners. Either way, there are decisions of fairness to consider and important operational details to work out. In this episode, Mohammed Salyani, a principal at the accounting firm WilkinGuttenplan, explains the ramifications of various options. Mohammed Salyani is interviewed by Carol Ott for Habitat Magazine.

November 11, 2022
Season 1
Episode 5

Lobby Redesign: Turning Bad News Into Good

One of the most controversial projects a co-op or condo can do is to redesign its lobby. One person likes green, another likes blue. One likes marble, another likes wood. Even if everyone can agree on the redo, last minute changes can cause tumult. On today’s episode, Louis Lipson, senior associate at the architecture firm Ethelind Coblin, shares the story of a lobby project at 785 Fifth Avenue in New York City, when last minute changes to a feature wall almost derailed everything. Louis Lipson is interviewed by Carol Ott for 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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