New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

HABITAT

HARLEM

Paul Morejon didn’t become board president of his 133-unit Housing Development Fund Corporation (HDFC) co-op in Harlem because he had an agenda, or wanted to help further a cause, or any of the myriad “standard” reasons a person joins a board. Instead, he fell into it.

“I was asked to serve as secretary, even though I had no experience taking meeting minutes or preparing agendas,” he says.  “I’m actually a web and social media developer and a photographer. I had to catch on quickly. The learning curve has been steep.”

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This might be a first: A rich developer is suing shareholders at the City-subsidized, middle-income co-op Madison Park Apartments just for complaining about what they called shoddy construction and repairs, including leaks dating to 2002. Since one of the defendants is a 68-year-old retiree on Social Security, we're guessing developer Donald Capoccia of BFC partners isn't figuring on them mounting an expensive defense. Gag me with a lawsuit.

Plus, a Central Park West condominium extends balloting time for an anti-smoking vote. Should it have? City Council members rail at the Fed for delayed Sandy relief funds. And we've reverse-mortgage realities, Airbnb telling people not to hotel illegally, and how to compile a great co-op board package.

Updated March 13, 2014 — Psst. C'mere. I got a deal for ya. You buy these commercial condo spaces that I'm sellin' as the condominium sponsor and I'll tell ya what: You don't gotta listen to the board. You buy these units, you got veto power over any board decision that affects you. That means you can tell 'em not to raise yer common charges. And it's all perfectly legal. Just sign here on the dotted line. Or I guess these lines aren't dotted anymore. OK — sign here on the plain straight line….

Updated March 13, 2014 — Psst. C'mere. I got a deal for ya. You buy these commercial condo spaces that I'm sellin' as the condominium sponsor and I'll tell ya what: You don't gotta listen to the board. You buy these units, you got veto power over any board decision that affects you. That means you can tell 'em not to raise yer common charges. And it's all perfectly legal. Just sign here on the dotted line. Or I guess these lines aren't dotted anymore. OK — sign here on the plain straight line….

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, why didn't anyone tell Co-op City's residents there were outbreaks of Legionnaires' Disease? Why did a community board recommend a restaurateur's liquor license over the objections of people living in the same building? And why did a smokers'-rights group butt out of a condo forum? Plus: You can't take your kid's stroller into the passenger elevator? Seriously? 

Our uptown neighbors at 45 Central Park North are keeping busy with capital work: the six-story, 47-unit cooperative (built in 1903) in central Harlem swung into action this past August, spending time and a cool $287,000 to keep the aging building ship-shape. The project is slated for completion this month.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, condo-owners at the landmarked American Tract Society Building a.k.a. 150 Nassau Street, swill be welcoming a Denny's restaurant, after all. Well, maybe "welcoming" is too strong a word. In Brighton Beach, the ultra-green condo at 67 Brighton 1st Lane may or may not still be called Bright N' Green, but it's back in the news. Upcoming Late Night host Seth Meyers buys in Greenwich Village. And condo owners at The Lennox say its construction was bollocksed. Plus: Tips on spotting a friendly / liberal co-op board.

Sugar Hill evokes mixed feelings in Albelisa Kemp, a project manager at Rand Architecture & Engineering. “It’s a beautiful district; there’s some really amazing stonework,” she says, while admitting to some disappointment: the historic district, located in the northern part of the Hamilton Heights section of Harlem, has also unfortunately seen a lot of deterioration over the years.

An exception to that trend is 470 Convent Avenue. The six-story, Beaux-Arts brick building is undergoing a façade, roof and window renovation. “The building is an icon,” board president Michael Davu says, noting that it was designed by architects Gross & Kleinberger and constructed in 1911. “People come to the neighborhood from everywhere, so we get a lot of foot traffic,” he adds. The property has eight commercial stores on an avenue that is otherwise almost all residential.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, winds of change sweep New York City as Hurricane Sandy strands seniors and clobbers cars. Plus, advise on filing your insurance claims, a heads-up on changes to real estate advertising, and do you want to buy Celeste Holm's home? For condo and co-op boards, the lawsuit against The Dakota's board takes a turn, secret-identity sales increase and we give some options to help counter illegal renting.

Though a sponsor or developer must, by law, turn over control of the condo or co-op board after 50 percent of the apartments are sold or five years have elapsed after the first closing, whichever comes first, we're all familiar with sponsors who overstay their welcome, creating refinancing obstacles and other lender issues, revolving-door rental tenants and other problems. But every once in a while, even in New York, things work out the way they're supposed to.

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