New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

HABITAT

LONG ISLAND

The savings can be significant. Last fall, Cooper Square Realty, which manages 600 properties, pooled 250 of them to buy electricity from an electricity service company. So, instead of buying 500 kwh of electricity for a single building, the company shopped for 130 million kwh. Individual properties saved between 9 and 20 percent on electricity costs.

"You get a better pricing structure because of the volume," says Cooper Square president Dan Wurtzel. His firm hopes to eventually bring all its managed properties into the new plan.

Buying in bulk also works for capital improvements. Five years ago, Fairfield Properties offered six of its properties the opportunity to convert to natural gas. By bundling the projects together, the company reduced the upgrade costs. The five properties that agreed to the offer are each saving about $100,000 a year on heating costs, says Alvin Wasserman, director of Fairfield.

Last January, Villas on the Bay, a 42-unit condominium in East Moriches, Long Island, switched to Fairfield Properties, a larger property manager than the one it formerly had. The 30-year-old community had capital improvements on the horizon and thought Fairfield could get them better prices.

Underneath the Stewart Franklin Condominium, a 48-unit cond-op on Long Island, big changes are brewing. The board there has undertaken a complete overhaul of the boiler room, tearing out its two old boilers and installing a modern heating and hot water system. It's a project that's slated to last all summer and wrap up just in time for the cold to set in.

It is almost a mantra with Fred Rudd, the president of Rudd Realty. "You must have a balanced budget," he says firmly, noting that many co-op boards and condo associations make the mistake of trying to balance the budget by raiding the reserves. "Because of that, when it comes to a rainy day, they don't have adequate funds to deal with the problems as they arise."

The Blair House – at least its lobby and hallways – had possibly seen better days, but it was hard to tell. “Dark and dreary” is how one observer described them, with decades-old furniture crowding the lobby and dimly lit bulbs illuminating the long hallways at the 42-unit Great Neck, Long Island, co-op. “We felt it was time for a change,” recalls Naomi Schurr, a board member and chair of the five-person lobby committee. A refinancing provided the money and a shareholder who had recently redesigned her apartment provided the savior: Tina Tilzer, president of Art & Interiors, a redesign firm.

... a court rules against a Queens co-op that tried to evict an elderly couple when the asthmatic, severely allergic wife needed a disallowed air conditioner in order to, you know, breathe and live. Also: How to prep an apartment for sale, what to expect from brokers in 2012, and how condos are becoming like co-ops when it comes to admissions.

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