New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

HABITAT

CARNEGIE HILL

Jonathan Vatner’s “Carnegie Hill” takes the reader inside a New York co-op.

Gotham condo board uses clever strategy to get around spending caps.

Major facade and elevator projects are guided by ad hoc committees.

The Size of Your Building Matters – a Lot

Written by Paula Chin on September 06, 2016

Carnegie Hill

Boards can save big by accurately measuring square footage.

Who knew a park bench could cause so much distress? That's the case for residents of a co-op building on Park Avenue who are up in arms after a delicatessen in the adjoining building placed park benches on the sidewalk outside the store. Ronda Kaysen's latest "Ask Real Estate" column in The New York Times answers the co-op resident who is wondering why the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) bounced the building's complaint to the Department of Transportation (DOT) — which has not responded. Kaysen explains that the DCA regulates sidewalk cafés, and a deli with a couple of benches outside is not, regardless of how the disgruntled co-op residents feel, a sidewalk café. And it looks like the building residents are going to have to bench their annoyance. It turns out DOT probably won't be sympathetic to their plight. The organization plans to install 1,500 benches around the city by 2015 as part of its new CityBench program. Kaysen points out that although the deli's benches are not part of the CityBench initiative, DOT will probably let them sit where they are, as long as they aren't in the way of pedestrians. 

At the co-op 1107 Fifth Avenue, an apartment that was once the city's largest has been sold to hedge-fund honcho Mark Kingdon, founder of Kingdon Capital Management, for $30.9 million, reports the New York Daily News. And this marks the end of a circuitous journey for the 10-room penthouse with a wraparound terrace, which Peruvian billionaire Carlos Rodriguez Pastor had previously wanted to buy. So did the co-op board's president, Maureen Klinsky. She bid $21 million, Pastor bid $27.5 million, and the board naturally accepted Pastor's higher offer. Which then begs the question of who was behind the board suddenly deciding it was going to build a shared roof deck for all the shareholders — accessible only by the penthouse terrace? And then shifting gears and deciding it was going to do repairs that would limit an owner's access to the terrace? Pastor sued and withdrew his bid — though Klinksy still didn't get to guy it. As Curbed.com has written of all this: "Co-ops: They're just like high school except nobody graduates unless they die."

It was Michael Wolfe's first co-op. The 30-unit property at 1107 Fifth Avenue on East 92nd Street impressed the young manager. "I remember walking into the building. I had always lived in a private home, and I couldn't believe that apartments could be so big. There was a grand lobby, with a doorman and staff. It even had manned elevators. I thought they gave it that classy hotel, classy building feel."

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a co-op board takes away a parking space from a little old lady with Parkinson's, saying her car's insurance and registration had lapsed — they hadn't — and that the car didn't run ... so they took away the spot while the car was in the garage to, y'know, run. Doesn't sound like the board's running on all cylinders, either. Same might be said on Fifth Avenue, where a co-op board president who lost a bid for an apartment in her building allegedly decided no one else could buy it, either. Plus, Patrick Stewart makes it so with a condo buy in Brooklyn.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a condominium board sues its developer. a co-op buyer sues a seller, and a co-op shareholder sues his neighbor. Plus, a lawyer sues his clients, whom he'd represented against a co-op board. Ah, springtime in New York!  We've also a co-op board trying to evict an agoraphobic transgender smoker, but hey, that could happen anywhere....

Michele Kleier, president of Kleier Residential and a frequent presence on the HGTV reality show Selling New York, is trying to sell Apartment 7A at 1125 Park Avenue. She describes the unit in this prewar co-op as "gracious" and "elegant," and the luxury property itself as having great amenities and lovely neighbors. She should know. She's lived in the building for 32 years, part of a phenomenon known as "resident brokers."

Resident brokers such as Kleier can be a blessing: Because the building they represent is also their home, they know it well and understand the quirks of the condo or co-op board, and thus are more likely to deliver buyers everyone will love. They have been selling apartments for a long time, frequently with few problems. Your building may have someone like this, who has become the "go-to" salesperson for residents.

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