New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine October 2020 free digital issue

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A Calamity That Produced Cohesion

Written by Tom Soter on July 20, 2016

Freeport

After getting battered by Hurricane Sandy, a Long Island co-op came together.

Gandolfo ("Dolf") Ferucci has served on the board of the 66-unit Smith Street Gardens in Freeport, Long Island, since the mid-1980s. He moved into the 56-year-old building around 1982, and bought in as an insider when the building went cooperative in 1986. The apartments have very large rooms, he notes, and most residents are elderly and middle-income. Here, talking with Habitat Associate Editor Aparna Narayanan, the co-op board veteran discusses lessons learned over 25 years.

At 51 Fifth Avenue, the co-op board came into possession last year of a 2,000-square-foot two-bedroom apartment overlooking a church. The board enlisted a broker who told them to put the apartment on the market for $1.5 million as is. That's when the property manager stepped in and put a stop to it.

Promoting staff based on how popular someone is with the residents, rather than on strictly professional criteria and experience, is an invitation to problems — and there could be no greater example than the experience of one co-op board in Freeport, Long Island, when a staffer's popularity allowed him to buy two apartments and eventually win election to the five-member board, where he and two cronies gained control of the building.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a Long Island co-op struggle to finance common-area repair, not covered by FEMA, after superstorm Sandy; a condo super in Greenpoint risks blowing the place up; and rich folk got dem pied-à-terre blues. For co-op and condo boards, we've two tales of illegal hoteling — both with hilarious, albeit nefarious, behavior by the apartment owners. Plus, the latest amenity: onsite well-being programs.

When the wind and rain of Hurricane Irene whipped across the Ocean Harbor View Apartments, a 56-unit co-op in Freeport, New York, on August 28, 2011, the massive storm did more than get the property wet: it flooded the laundry room and damaged three out of the eight machines within. It was not long afterwards that the seven-person board of the cooperative — located at 494 South Ocean Avenue and built in 1950 — decided it was time to turn a disaster into an opportunity. The room would be completely renovated.

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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

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