New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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Shelly Kupper is an agent for change in his building, 304 West 75th Street. The 74-year-old dentist speaks emphatically and proudly about the cooperative, which he says has substantially changed since he first moved in 24 years ago. As president of the seven-member board since 1994, Kupper rules benignly but firmly. The co-op's projects over the years have included redoing the lobby, converting the elevator from manned to automatic and adding a gym, storage lockers and a bike room.

The smokers were outvoted by more than two to one — yet because the vote to ban smoking at The Vaux Condominium didn't reach the required 2/3 supermajority, the tally of 48.85 vs. 23.68 means that less than a quarter of the voting residents have dictated their "right" to a spread carcinogenic smoke throughout a closed environment.

Unit-owner Candice Elliott told The New York Observer that the board failed to pass the ban because "they framed the issue in terms of smoking only" and complained of "an activist board whose members saw themselves as being on the vanguard of this anti-smoking movement." Zeckendorf Towers last year became the largest condo in New York City and possibly the nation to go smoke-free.

The West Side Rag blog has introduced a new series of profiles of Upper West Side doormen. The first one introduces Robert, a 34-year-old Serbian doorman at 333 West End Avenue, who has just become an American citizen. Tessa Abrahams discusses with Robert why he moved to the United States and hears from residents about his relentlessly positive outlook on life.

A Manhattan Supreme Court judge has thrown out a lawsuit against the developers of The Apthorp condominium on the Upper West Side.

The Real Deal revealed that the $750,000 suit, which claimed that a descending staircase cut the plaintiff’s unit in half, was tossed when the judge ruled that the agreement was for an 'as is' purchase, and therefore it was up to the buyer to inquire as to the condition of the apartment.

Condo sales are up, price per square foot is up, and someone, somewhere, just sold their unit for a cool $43,000,000. (And yet, somehow, it’s not the most expensive unit per square foot!) 

CityRealty’s quarterly “CityRealty 100 Report” is out, and the numbers are eye-opening. According to the report, the first quarter saw 169 apartments change hands at what the firm has determined are the top 100 condominium buildings. Average price per square foot was $2,272. Compared to the same time frame last year, that price has increased 19.4 percent

Want to ensure a quorum at your next annual meeting? Do a lousy job throughout the year.

"That's the irony," notes attorney Phyllis H. Weisberg, a partner at Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads. "When everything is running smoothly and everybody's happy, it's harder to get a quorum."

"People come from far and wide if there are contentious issues," agrees longtime co-op board member Grant Varga, of the 57-unit 17 West 67th Street in Manhattan. "But when everything is going smoothly, people say, ‘What's my motivation to go?' So we work hard to convince them to show up." So how do you ensure that your building has the required quorum to make the annual meeting legit?

In a condo on Manhattan's Upper West Side, a resident's practice of renting his apartment to a string of transient visitors has the condo board concerned and even fearful. Given the state of the global economy, the demand for short-term accommodations in New York City isn't likely to slacken, with Europeans in particular flocking here to take advantage of the weak dollar and the bargains it affords on everything from clothes to computers. So what can a condo association — as opposed to a more strictly regulated co-op corporation — do to keep its the building from becoming a de facto hotel?

When a sponsor is in arrears to both a lender and a condominium, can the condominium get some of the money it is owed before the lender does? Usually, you can't — but the condo board at 455 Central Park West made some novel arguments that are worth knowing about.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week: Seriously? Mark Andermanis, board president of the subsidized Mitchell-Lama co-op East Midtown Plaza, jumps ahead of others to score a four-bedroom apartment — reserved for families of six, which, additionally, he does not have —  and when he won't budge, an alert shareholder sues him. But he gets to keep the primo place because the shareholder doesn't have standing to sue ... and while the co-op board, perhaps, could, here's the thing: He's the co-op board president! Does this sound proper or right to anyone ethical? The good guys do win one, though, when a developer who refused to fix a Long Island condominium complex is permanently barred from selling condos. That's something, at least.

And then there's another reason for condo and co/op boards to be wary of Airbnb....

In the immediacy of the moment during an apartment-house fire, people can panic. Timely information helps prevent panic. And so in the wake of high-profile high-rise fires, the question of how to get crucial fire information to building residents — whether through Internet- or phone-based systems or through what the industry calls "one-way communication" such as public-address systems in hallways or individual apartments — has become the New York City Council's next burning issue.

And unless that issue's addressed quickly, the desire to mandate life-saving communication paradoxically may cost lives.

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