New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



Marilyn Profita, a retired teacher, moved into the Meadowlark Gardens cooperative in Fresh Meadows, Queens, in 2000. Since that time, she and the other shareholders have been subject to repeated assessments and maintenance increases — including back-to-back nine percent increases in the past two fiscal years. After getting nowhere with the board and the building's accountant, Profita decided to get legal help. In late 2012, she called Mark Hankin, a veteran real estate lawyer with the firm Hankin & Mazel. Speaking for a group of disgruntled shareholders at the eight-building, 288-unit co-op, Profita told Hankin that she and her group wanted to know what they could do about the co-op's deplorable fiscal and physical condition.

Co-op and condominium managing agents throughout the region continue to cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, even as a new storm is predicted for Wednesday, November 7.

Peter Lehr, the director of management at Kaled, reported that Birchwood on the Green, a 334-unit co-op in Oakdale, Suffolk County, on Long Island, was hard hit by the storm: “The power went out and we have to deal with [the building’s] sewage treatment plant. We were scrambling around to get the power up and running, at least to the sewage treatment plant. They got power back in the complex Friday — that’s three or four days without it — and our environmental team has been monitoring the situation because you’ve got to make sure that the [sewage plant] chemicals are balanced right. [If they’re not,] Suffolk County will come in and violate you.”

For example, if a worker is injured while working on the building's façade, he will probably sue his employer, the building he was on, and the managing agent. (With regards to any claim against the employer, the worker must first seek relief from workers' compensation — and that award is eventually deducted from any other judgment.) The problem is that if the contractor's insurance policy is deficient in some way — he told his insurer that he is doing carpentry instead of façade work, for example — the insurer will deny the claim. That can leave the building open to liability, despite an indemnification clause.

Denise Savino-Erichsen, president of the multifamily-building laundry-room company Automatic Industries, has been named this year's Woman-Owned Business Champion by the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

"I am honored to receive such recognition by the Queens Chamber," Savino-Erichsen said in a statement, joking that "I must come 'clean': Automatic Industries is a family affair. My father, our CEO and founder, had a great vision and formed a wonderful foundation. We also have a talented and dedicated team that enables us to maintain our success." 

Also honored were Daniel Zausner, chief operating office of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, given the Community Partner Awards; Edward Farrell, president of Resorts World Casino New York City, with the Regional Economic-Impact Award; Kevin Alexander, executive director of the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation, with the Not-for-Profit Champion; and Marissa Shorenstein, president of AT&T New York, who was inducted into the Queens Chamber's Hall of Fame.

With an abundance of low-lying, southern-facing roof space, the 930-unit Georgetown Mews co-op complex in Kew Gardens, Queens, has embarked on a massive solar-energy project that eventually will provide 35 percent of its energy needs. And by even the most conservative projections, it will pay off its full cost in under two years.

How did it get the funding to do this? And can you?

No matter how amazing your financing is, the last and — in the long run — the greatest of the financial attractions of a solar-power project doesn't appear in any computation of expenses; instead, it's the power the project will generate. Georgetown Mews, a sprawling, 930-unit co-op in Kew Gardens, Queens, is finally attempting to take control of that power. Its massive project will eventually provide 35 percent of the complex's energy needs and by even the most conservative projections will pay off its full cost in under two years.

The six-story, 153-apartment co-op at 87-10 51st Avenue in Elmhurst, Queens, used to be The Continental. There the co-op board had filed for bankruptcy in 2009 amid one or more lawsuits, reported the New York Daily News at the time. But now, says, the 1962-vintage, red-brick low-rise may be low-rising from the ashes as The Continental Park. Renderings and promotional copy at the developer's website say there will be a gym, a playground and a sculpture garden among the amenities — although as DNAInfo notes, getting there may not be easy. "A partial stop-work order was issued in September for scaffolding issues, according to Department of Buildings records, and there are more than two dozen open violations, with the most recent for elevator issues." Well, you know the old saying: Elmhurst wasn't built in a day.

So, enjoy our selection of the top 10 co-op / condo quotes (or groups of quotes) uttered in 2011. And feel free to add your own favorite 2011 co-op / condo quotes in our "Comments" section at the end!

Kim Velsey in The New York Observer writes, quite entertainingly, of the travails facing diplomats seeking co-op or condo housing in New York. At many places it's "Diplomats Need Not Apply," as boards worry about diplomatic immunity, security details, endless sign-offs from the State Department and others, and, of course, the dreaded scourge of cocktail parties. Not to mention: You approve one diplomat, there's a coup, now you've got a whole new neighbor to contend with. We learn that while the UK and New Zealand have been given the red carpet, poor France got turned down at River House and Qatar had to buy a townhouse. (We know ... big hardship.) Attorney Steven Wagner offers an amusing anecdote about a bad diplomat in Astoria, Queens. And you don't even want to know what diplomats from poor countries have to contend with. Two words: studio apartment.

Any board member will tell you that elevator replacement is a major capitol project, and that putting out bids, choosing a contractor, waiting on parts and then doing the actual work can take months. And any board member will tell you that standard repairs should just take a day or three.

Somewhere in the middle of all that is what WPIX-TV "Help Me Howard" reporter Howard Thompson, writing on the station's website, calls an elevator "renovation" at the Dorchester I, part of the two-building Dorchester co-op complex in Howard Beach, Queens. Despite the co-op's large and fragile senior population, that renovation of the building's sole elevator dragged on for five long months. (This followed the Dorchester II not having a working elevator for months earlier this year, when Thompson encountered a vulgar, foul-mouthed secretary and a belligerent board vice president.) If we may hazard a tip, from the Habitat archives: Dorchester board! You can expedite elevator repairs! And given shareholders like 99-year-old Lou Hendelman, a cancer-stricken retired New York firefighter, perhaps that's something to be considered.

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Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments

Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise

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