New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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Like many properties in the path of Hurricane Sandy, Neptune Towers, a 152-unit Long Beach co-op, lost power in October 2012. The generator had been there since the property was built in 1968, and "it was due for a replacement," recalls manager John Wolf, president of Alexander Wolf & Company.

"During Superstorm Sandy, it ran for five or six hours and then the engine ceased," says board president Rich Louis. The co-op had faced "age-related" problems in the past, he adds, involving the replacement of harder- and harder-to-find parts, "so we were at the point where we knew we had to replace it."

"The project was monumental," says Harry Seid. And the veteran property manager should know: he has been managing property for nearly half a century, most recently for Fairfield Properties. The project he's discussing was actually four jobs — replacing the fencing on the grounds as well as a number of handrails on the decks, redoing all the siding, and replacing a number of roofs — and they were scheduled to be completed within two years.

"But because the three contractors that we had here were good, because of the expertise of the board, and because of the expertise of Fairfield, we were able to expedite this job and get a two-year project done in basically seven months," Seid notes.


Fast work — if you can get it.

That could be the catchphrase for the recent repair job at Quail Run Condominium 1, where a major re-roofing job was completed in about 30 days.

The 160-unit condominium, located in Deer Park on Long Island, was built more than 40 years ago as a collection of one- and two-story buildings, now an enclave for the middle class. About ten years ago, leaks began appearing, although they were minor and the nine-member board felt it had them under control.

Despite all the devastation that superstorm Sandy caused to buildings in its path, one co-op found a positive among all the negatives: the old-fashioned rundown lobby had been flooded with about two feet of water, necessitating an extensive repair and renovation project. The lobby had long been a sore spot for the board. But now, it had to be upgraded — no ifs, ands, or buts.

Before its board could focus on the flooded lobby, however, the 179-unit property, called The Waters Edge at 700 Shore Road in Long Beach, had other concerns: the boiler needed to be replaced; there was more than a million dollars of electrical work required; the garage was filled with sand; the elevators were out; and most of the shareholders were living off-site (they were out for the first six weeks after Sandy hit).

Loans to co-ops or condos are usually fairly easy to place — if the association's financials are in order. One of the areas that lenders examine is the state of the association's arrears. "If you have more than 10 percent arrears, and in some cases more than 5 percent, you've got a problem," says mortgage broker Pat Niland, president of First Funding of New York.

That was the case at Lido Beach Towers, a 184-unit oceanfront condominium in Lido Beach, on Long Island. This luxury property had suffered severe flood damage from superstorm Sandy, and it needed millions of dollars for repairs. It was not the first time the board had needed funds for such work, however.

Earlier this month, Tudor Oaks — which consists of five two-story garden-style apartment buildings — reverted from a co-op to a rental property after going into foreclosure. It's a very rare, and extremely sad, occurrence, but documents confirm that the 106-unit property in Middle Island, Suffolk County, was sold at auction, after it failed to reorganize under Chapter 11. Now shareholders are left with unsecured loans, rather than share loans, since the stock and leases were canceled. And it was a tense Thanksgiving for tenants who, since they aren't shareholders, are now wondering where they stand in this whole mess. CBS New York reported that Fairfield Properties, the new owner, told 1010 Wins' Mona Rivera it has no plans to evict anyone. Fairfield Properties added that it "has invited every occupant to apply to become a tenant with Fairfield, and many occupants have already accepted that invitation." But the situation for renters is a little more complicated. According to Rivera's report, Vanessa Baird-Streeter, a spokesperson for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, stated that tenants received letters from Fairfield letting them know that as of Nov. 17, anyone occupying a unit who is not the shareholder no longer has a right to remain in that unit. The letter to renters from Fairfield also states that it will send out a separate notice "with respect to options and payments." Now many of these renters may end up having to find a new place to live.

Pat Whaley has learned a few lessons in her position as board president at Villas on the Bay, a 42-unit condominium in East Moriches, N.Y.

Built in the early 1980s on Long Island’s South Shore, not far from the tony hamlet of Southampton, the four-building condo was, she says, falling apart. "We are on a beautiful piece of property overlooking a beautiful coast, and our buildings were awful. They were really in deplorable shape." Fixing the problem was the main reason she had run for the board. "We are right on the water with full front exposure, so it had been at least 30 years, and it was a continual maintenance and repair project; we needed lots and lots of work." 


May 8, 2014 — Now you have another six months.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced a further six-month extension for superstorm Sandy victims who carry the federal government's Standard Flood Insurance Policy. The deadline for filing an updated "proof of loss" form — a statement on the amount a co-op or condo apartment owner is claiming under his or her flood-insurance policy — was already extended once to April 28, 2014, and has now been extended to October 29, 2014. The extension applies to losses from Sandy flood damage that occurred between October 25 and November 6, 2012.

Co-op and condominium managing agents throughout the region continue to cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, even as a new storm is predicted for Wednesday, November 7.

Peter Lehr, the director of management at Kaled, reported that Birchwood on the Green, a 334-unit co-op in Oakdale, Suffolk County, on Long Island, was hard hit by the storm: “The power went out and we have to deal with [the building’s] sewage treatment plant. We were scrambling around to get the power up and running, at least to the sewage treatment plant. They got power back in the complex Friday — that’s three or four days without it — and our environmental team has been monitoring the situation because you’ve got to make sure that the [sewage plant] chemicals are balanced right. [If they’re not,] Suffolk County will come in and violate you.”

Baby, it's cold outside, and your boiler and heating system are going full-blast. That's a big energy cost for your cooperative or condominium. Fortunately, you have options. With supplies of natural gas high and prices low (though higher than last year), it may make sense to switch from oil to gas — or perhaps to to a dual-fuel burner capable of operating with either. In our latest Teachable Moments column, two veteran property managers relate some real-world experiences of how they helped their co-ops and condos pull the trigger on pulling the switch. Did it work? Well, one place is saving $50,000 a year and others are saving six figures. Might be worth the energy to consider.

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