New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

HABITAT

UPPER EAST SIDE

With natural gas prices falling and the city phasing out two of the dirtiest heating oils, Nos. 4 and 6, buildings are rushing to switch to natural gas. But switching is not simple. It requires coordination among various city agencies, private contractors and Con Ed. With requests up by 400 percent within the last three years, according to Con Ed, the system is overloaded. In 2010, Con Ed received 400 requests to convert. In the first half of 2012, it has received 1,200.

Should your co-op or condo approve such a switch? What are the factors to consider? What are the potential benefits — and the potential pitfalls? The story of how the condo board of The Leonori made the changeover can help other condo / co-op boards looking for a roadmap of how to make the decision.

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.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, condo-owners don't want a visit from St. Vincent, the ex-wife of the Intuit software chairman loses out in a co-op sale, and the government wants home appraisals to be more transparent. And co-op board members can see one of their own taking the next step and running for office.

Our story begins at an 1120 Park Avenue penthouse, in a co-op between West 95th and 96th Streets. Craig and Deborah Cogut had bought triplex apartment 16PHB in in August 2006. Two months later they informed the managing agent, Brown Harris Stevens, that they wanted to renovate. Their architect, Darius Toraby, submitted plans that met with approval from the co-op's retained professional, Walter B. Melvin Architects, and after that from the board.

It’s not the kind of information a board ever wants to receive — but it certainly doesn’t expect to receive it three years after the building was built. “After evidence of leaks, the board was compelled to hire an architect to study the conditions of the roofing and found that it was improperly installed by the developer,” says Jeff Heidings, president of Siren Management. “Typically, that’s what is first to go in new construction.”

Typical or not, the flaws made it crucial to replace everything. The previous roof had not had enough insulation, and the drains were improperly installed, causing ponding and saturation. In short, it was leaking into the top two floors.

In the world of co-op and condo amenities, the midtown condominium The Sheffield has just served up a tasty new dish on a platter: a restaurant partnership entitling residents to a host of perks at eateries owned by the David Burke Group — at no extra cost to the buildings homeowners.

Calling AT&T: Why have we been paying your electric bill for 18 years?

That's the question the condo board of The Leonori condominium — where residents include the actor Samuel L. Jackson and former Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack — has put to the telecommunications giant after discovering the building has been paying to power the cell-phone towers on its roof all this time. Even more to the point, that's the question asked in the lawsuit that the condominium filed on July 18. The case is instructive for any condo or co-op board as a reminder to really look at your monthly bills.

In Bregman v. 111 Tenants Corp., Cornelia Sharpe Bregman alleged that in 1972 she was renting apartment 6C at 111 East 75th Street in Manhattan, which was converting the building to cooperative ownership. Because of an insufficient number of subscriptions to qualify for conversion, the sponsor asked her to purchase her apartment as well as penthouse Apartment 10A. Bregman says she entered into an agreement that gave her "full, unconditional, and perpetual sublet rights" to both apartments, because the sponsor recognized that she would have to sublet one or both.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents.

This week, a high-end co-op has a low-rent board, according to a lawsuit claiming it's avoiding responsibility for fecal-contaminated water coming from the tap. Yuck. Plus, a pit bull featured on Animal Planet bites a condo neighbor, and elsewhere a pit-bull owner defies a condominium's no-dogs rule without even bothering to make up a "therapy animal" claim. Queens, the home of last year's tax-protest movement, examines the just-renewed tax abatement, and what happens when your storage locker gets broken into? Plus: An infestation of artists, all over Co-op Village!

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week,it's a nail-biter as New York City and New York State play chicken over the technically expired property-tax abatement for co-ops and condos. Plus, private playgrounds are the hot new kid-friendly amenity and Alec Baldwin's new wife buys a condo ... right next to her husband's. Is that like his-and-her towels? For condo and co-op boards, we've no less than The New York Times says sic 'em when it comes to condo arrears. And here's how you break up with the nice, friendly volunteer who's not so great at the job.

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