New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community



Erected in 1905, the rental building at 34 Jefferson Avenue in Brooklyn, where the Clinton Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhoods meet, has a tangled history. Tenants took the landlord to court in 1979 and won permission to move toward becoming a limited-equity Housing Development Fund Corporation (HDFC) co-op.

But after three years, virtually no steps had been taken toward converting the 66-unit building. In 2001, some residents came up with a strategy. If the building stopped paying its real estate taxes, it would eventually become delinquent and would then qualify for New York City's "Third Party Transfer" (TPT) program.

Alan Gorelick, the former executive vice president of the Manhattan property-management firm Saparn Realty, pleaded guilty yesterday to stealing $2.6 million from approximately 30 buildings he used to manage. He was convicted in Manhattan Supreme Court of second-degree grand larceny, criminal possession of a forged instrument and scheming to defraud.

When you're one of the earliest residential cooperatives in New York City and you've managed to reach your golden anniversary while remaining a bastion of affordable housing, you've got reason to celebrate. Coney Island's historic Amalgamated Warbasse Houses did just that this month with a blowout for its roughly 8,000 people in 2,584 apartments across five buildings. And as the Brooklyn Daily reports, citing co-op board president Michael Silverman, it didn't cost the shareholders a single cent. 

Those bright blue bikes are everywhere these days, blocking crosswalks and creating noisy obstacles for pedestrians trying to cross the street. New York City co-ops and condos are protesting bike rack installations that they claim are dangerous and lower their property values. But is there an end to the Citi Bike saga in sight?

The condo board at 550 Grand Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, had a problem unrelated to hirsute hipsters, organic kale smoothies and double-wide strollers. It's a common problem with new construction and even in renovated pre-war apartment buildings, such as this four-story, 1920 walkup converted circa 2009 from three units to six. But what makes this case unusual, and possibly instructive to other new boards who may be facing sponsor shenanigans, this board successfully argued that just because the sponsor used different corporate names doesn't mean any of those entities can evade responsibility.

Polar vortexes and five feet of snow weren't the only things sending shivers through New York City co-op and condo boards this past winter  — so did the arrest of property manager Alan B. Gorelick, leading many boards to ask a pair of unsettling questions: Are we insured against theft? If so, is our insurance adequate?

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, is Howard Beach, Queens, co-op board vice president Ellen Di Stefano Buonpastore one of the most foulmouthed in New York City? We can't say, but Howard Thompson of WPIX's "Help Me Howard" segment has a report about her, stranded seniors and an elevator repair that will astonish you. Plus, what happened to the super at The Plaza's condominiums? What's the latest in the ongoing saga of the Brighton Beach boardwalk bathrooms? Did you know boards can help resolve disputes through free mediation? And where is Mad Men man Jon Hamm hanging his hat?

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a 63-year-old woman in a Fifth Avenue co-op has had the same Maytag washer in her apartment for 20 years with permission and without trouble. Now the co-op board won't approve a replacement unless it's one of three hoity-toity brands. Well, lah-de-dah ... Maytag's not good enough for 'em? Let's go to court! And court may be where Trump Village West board president Igor Oberman might wind up, since a New York City Department of Investigation report accuses him of less-than-ethical things. Plus, Co-op City has an asbestos problem. Or does it?

In 1950, a young Jay Silverzweig, the owner of a plastics business, watched electricity costs take a toll on his neighbors in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Two fellow entrepreneurs, who used steam to clean rags, finally decided to get off the electric grid and worked out a cogeneration system (or CHP, i.e., "combined heat and power") that uses natural gas to produce electrical and thermal power.

More than 60 years later, those early experiments in alternative energy were lurking somewhere in Silverzweig's mind as he spearheaded the $1.5 million cogen project at the Brevoort East, a 26-story, 325-unit cooperative at 20 East 9th Street in Greenwich Village.

Does your co-op have a flip tax that it is higher than five percent of the gross sales price? If it does, you should be concerned. Lewis Kobak is.

Kobak, the longtime general manager of Brigham Park Co-op Section 4, in Brooklyn, became worried earlier this year about his co-op's transfer fee — colloquially called a flip tax — when several shareholders were having trouble selling their apartments. Buyers were being turned down for bank financing.

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