New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



Co-op board president Michael Kaplan puts it bluntly about the condition of the HVAC system at the Garth Essex, a 346-unit co-op in Eastchester, a town in New York's Westchester County just north of New York City. "The equipment was from the 1960s. It was failing. We were repairing it all the time. To a certain extent, we had even started to reach the limit of what we could do with repairs. We were running on borrowed time."

The solution: the board swapped out the aging dual-fuel boilers for newer models, which lowered their bills through increased efficiency. But they also reduced costs by completely changing the way the building was heated and cooled and provided hot water.

The end result? The co-op reduced its water consumption by 25 percent and its costs by half. Fuel usage has dropped by 53 percent, and maintenance costs to the HVAC system have plunged 40 percent.

Two shareholders began a legal action against one of the co-op boards I represent as an attorney, and against four of its individual directors. They were challenging the cooperative corporation's alleged refusal to approve an alteration to their apartment.

A condominium unit-owner seeking to combine his two contiguous apartments carved a five-foot-wide opening in the wall. This opening was not only constructed without the board's prior knowledge or approval, but also in violation of its rule prohibiting wall openings of greater than four feet in width. This rule was enacted upon the advice of the condominium's engineer, who warned that wall openings of a width in excess of four feet posed a threat to the structural integrity of the building's load-bearing walls.

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