New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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Theodore Xenakis bought shares of 50 Sutton Place South Owners Corp. and was the proprietary lessee of Apartment 6J. In August 1980, he purported to transfer the shares and assign the lease to Cia. Naviera Financiera Aries, a Panamanian corporation. Xenakis never told that co-op board he had transferred the shares and lease.

When I looked at my co-op's financial situation in 2005, we had less than $10,000 in reserves, negative equity and barely positive cash flow. My building needed a sustainable, long-term fiscal plan. And I had my prototype: the Marriott hotel chain. I had worked for Marriott in the late 1980s into the early 1990s. At that time, the chain set aside a percentage of its revenue each year for capital repairs and improvements. As a result, management is able to repair and improve the property so that it stays current. Our co-op was in desperate need of a Marriott-style makeover!

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, The Beresford, where Jerry Seinfeld lives, goes after a sidewalk hot dog vendor. Hey, don't let the fact that the city and the police both say he's legal — you just keep on fighting the good fight against nitrates! The FHA is relaxing condominium-certification rules, making it easier to get mortgages. And just in time: New York City condo prices are jumping. Meanwhile, for co-op / condo boards, there's a new resource for tree guards, and an old lesson for Law & Order fans: Don't mess with Lt. Van Buren!

Paul Vercesi moved into his 80-unit building near Gramercy Park way back in 1962. After the building converted to a co-op in the 1980s, he served a dozen years as the co-op board treasurer, then returned in 2000 as board president, a post he still holds today. His philosophy, in its simplest terms, is to get to know your fellow shareholders so that the board's decisions reflect the will of the majority of the building, not just the majority of the board.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, New York City cracks down on people illegally turning their apartments into hotel rooms. On the other hand, state legislators want to soften ILSA, the federal Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act that helps protect condominium buyers from bad developers — allegedly like the one the condo board at On Prospect Park is suing. Plus: What's an ongoing assessment, and how did the co-op board shut up that rooster? And Cynthia Nixon may no longer be your co-op neighbor, but David Duchovny might be your new one. The truth is out there — or it will be at the admissions interview.

As Stephen Budow sees it, there are two kinds of people in this world. One believes a person's home is his or her castle, sacred and inviolable. The other believes the health, comfort, and safety of a person's neighbors are far more important than the sanctity of any castle. Budow, an attorney who has spent the past decade as president of a 65-unit Yorkville condo, used to be the former type. But that began to change about three years ago.

 

Don Bilodeau, board president of a 72-unit condo in Astoria, Queens, started hearing two kinds of complaints about cigarette smoke shortly after he moved into the building in 2007. The first was about people smoking in common areas, which is forbidden in the bylaws. The second was about people smoking so heavily inside their apartments that the smoke was leaking into common areas.

Steven Schneider, an owner of the back-office company Back Office Inc., a.k.a. The Back Office, cautions that not every type of building benefits from "back-office only" (BOO) services. "It's the building that is having a lot of waterproofing issues," he says by way of example. "It's the building with the boiler they've had since year one and they've been putting band-aids on it, the building with a lot of problems and a board that needs its hand held every day."

As well, Schneider says, some potentially ideal candidates for BOO won't consider ditching their managing agents because it's seen as an issue of prestige to have an agent.

It sounds like something from a horror movie: Walls seeping with horrible, foul-smelling, oozing human waste from the, um, bowels of Hell, one might say.

But that's not the most horrific part. The most horrific part is that the board of this prewar doorman co-op — where sprawling, 10-room apartments sell for up to $3.5 million — was willing to pay only $20,400 of the $23,360 bill to make good on the damage, and to go to court over a difference of less than $3,000. So ... just what was the big stink about?

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, Seward Park Co-op shareholders protest the suburbanization of the Lower East Side, a church rattles a co-op's walls, and there are, like, 10,000 LEED-certified buildings in the U.S now. Is your co-op or condo one of them? Why or why not? Please discuss. Plus, an Upper West Side arborcide, mandatory volunteerism at a self-managed co-op, and a condo owner wants to turn his place into a bed-and-breakfast. Kate Winslet, on the other hand, is looking for a more long-term rental of her Chelsea condominium.

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