New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine June 2020 free digital issue

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Move over, Williamsburg. Epic Commercial Realty CEO Yona Edelkopf believes Prospect-Lefferts Gardens is the next big things in Brooklyn. Why? Edelkopf said in a statement quoted by DNAinfo.com that the neighborhood is getting a lot of "continuous attention" from investors and developers thanks to larger-scale condo and rental developments in the area. Just last week, a parking lot at 227 Clarkson Avenue sold for $1.35 million to Brookland Capital, a developer that plans to build condos on the property. DNAinfo adds that "the lot is one of more than a dozen development and construction projects in the area, where the local community board has been considering controversial changes to zoning rules meant to regulate the building boom." 

If you think supermarket options are few and far between in Clinton Hill, then bad news. It looks like the Key Food on Lafayette Avenue is going the way of the dinosaur. According to DNAinfo, "Slate Property Group is in the process of buying the building at 325 Lafayette Avenue," and it looks they plan to demolish it to build condos in its place. The spokesperson for the owners of the Key Food told DNAinfo she could not give any more information beyond confirming the building was in the process of being sold. Nothing's set in stone just yet — the entire project is in the planning stages — so there is a chance, however great or slim, that the new developers might reserve space in the new building's ground floor for the grocery store. But until a definitive decision is made, neighborhood folks will remain anxious about the possibility of losing a convenient grocery store option. Who can blame them? Fewer stores means less competition and prices that inevitably creep upward. And if you don't have a car? Fuggedaboutit. Get ready for longer walks.

It's no news that prices in Bed-Stuy have been on the rise and then some. Just ask all the people who have as many as four roommates and still find their share of rent creeping close to the $1,000 mark. And what about buyers? Well, with the neighborhood's historic brownstones hitting record numbers, some agents say buyers are looking at condos as alternatives, reports DNAinfo. Halstead Property real estate agent Morgan Munsey said Bedford Avenue would soon become a "condo canyon." Why? "Fourteen studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments will soon go on sale at a new 'boutique condominium development' at 1188 Bedford Avenue." With units at 1188 reportedly going for up to $825,000 — nearly a grand per square foot — it certainly looks like the condo boom is alive and well in Brooklyn, and Bedford Avenue it the new condo hot spot. Sure, $825,000 is hardly chump change, but it's a lot more affordable than dropping a million on one of those brownstones.

Park Slope's architecture is most certainly one of the factors that make this area of Brooklyn such a desirable place to live. The buildings in this neighborhood have character — even those that fall into disrepair. Such is the case with the five-story building at 187 Seventh Avenue, at Second Street. It was once owned by Dorothy Nash, reports The New York Times, who "also operated the Landmark Pub [there] until the late 1990s. [She] moved out at some point." Covered in graffiti, dilapidated and with most of its roof missing, it was considered an eyesore by many. Luckily, Sugar Hill Capital Partners, the developers who snapped it up for $4.2 million in 2013 after it was threatened with foreclosure, has decided to invest an additional $6 million to restore it and build four three-bedroom condos, along with an elevator, lobbies, and retail space. According to The Times, the condos, "called 2ND7TH, will be completed in the fall and went on the market this month, with prices starting at $3.198 million." 

Photo by Kate Leonova for Property Shark.

Prices in Brooklyn continue to skyrocket, and more of the locations that make Brooklyn so charming and engaging to new residents continue to disappear. Even landmarks have to make way for all those new condos. And another one just bit the dust, reports the New York Daily News. The historic Brooklyn Lyceum on 227 4th Avenue — which was originally a public bathhouse and most recently a performance venue — is going condo. According to the Daily News, former owner Eric Richmond fell behind on mortgage payments, which opened the door for real estate developer Greystone. The developer snapped up the Fourth Avenue landmark for $7.6 million at a foreclosure auction in October last year, and will be converting the space into high-end townhouse-style homes. Alas, no more eccentric musical acts by independent artists. But there is a silver lining: the building's "celebrated façade, which still features stucco and terra-cotta dolphins dating back to the building's bathhouse days, will remain intact."

Photo by Kate Leonova for Property Shark.

A condo in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has instituted a policy that requires buyers to pay $1,500 capital contribution charge. According to one of the condo's unit owners, "the bylaws do not give the board authority to require a capital contribution in this situation. In my view, it is essentially a flip tax." What if future boards decide to increase the fee? Is there a way to nip this in the bud? The unit owner reaches out to Ronda Kaysen in the latest "Ask Real Estate" column in The New York Times for some advice. Kaysen explains that the bylaws must give the board explicit permission to collect a capital contribution such as this $1,500 charge. If not, "then the board has certainly overstepped its boundaries" and essentially amended its bylaws — which it can only do if two-thirds of the unit owners vote in favor. Good news for the concerned unit-owner, right? Wrong. Kaysen adds that "the board could probably enforce the rule without a vote." And what if a buyer doesn't want to pay? Well, then, the board can block the sale. What are the odds you'll go to court over 1,500 bucks?

Co-op and condo boards can be very strict about their pet policies and have been known to come down hard on residents who harbor animals against the rules. But there's a difference between a pet dog and a service dog, as we've covered in the past. It looks like neither Trump Village IV — a 1,144-unit Coney Island co-op — nor board president Igor Oberman got the memo, however, and it could end up being quite costly. HousingWire.com reports that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is charging the co-op and Oberman "with violating the rights of Eugene Ovsishcher, a combat veteran with a psychiatric disability, and his wife, Galina" for denying the disabled veteran's request in August 2011 "to keep an emotional support dog." According to HUD, HousingWire.com reports, in February 2012, Ovsishcher provided the board, along with his request, "a copy of the dog’s picture, license and a letter from [his] doctor explain[ing] the medical need for the dog." Trump Village not only said no dice, but also threatened to terminate the couple's lease if they didn't make Mickey the Shi Tzu scram. And they made good on that threat, starting eviction proceedings a month later. It was the court's turn to say no dice, however — turns out when you want to evict someone, you should maybe not keep collecting rent from them. And that's when the couple went to HUD. If only Oberman and the board had read our story. Although the Americans with Disabilities Act doesn't generally apply to cooperative apartment corporations and condominium associations, state and federal fair-housing laws do.

The Salvation Army thrift shop at 176 Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg was demolished last year. Talk about location, location, location. Williamsburg is pretty hot stuff and getting hotter by the second. So it doesn't come as a huge shock that the Sally has scrapped plans to build "a two-story, 10,000-square-foot building" (which were three years in the making), and opted instead to sell the prime piece of property, according to the New York Observer’s Commercial Observer. Major Charles S. Foster, the command property secretary major for the Salvation Army, confirmed to the Commercial Observer that "the site is being marketed by Steve Bodden and Jack Lerner of Sanchez Bodden Lerner." As far as buyer and price go, mum's the word. Brownstoner.com speculates that given the busy corner location, rentals would make sense, "but the market has been turning to condos lately so who knows." Looks like potential condo buyers have something to keep their eye on in the next few years.

In 2012, Concord Village — a seven-building, 1,025-unit cooperative in downtown Brooklyn — was approved for a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority for up to $600,000 toward energy fixes if the building decreased energy use by 15 percent in a year. All it had to do was produce an energy audit, identify upgrades, and then complete the upgrades in a year.

The co-op identified $2.5 million in upgrades, but it quickly became clear that some of the plans were too ambitious to finish in time. Plans to retrofit the ventilation system, for instance, were scrapped when the board realized the vents were different sizes in each unit and in different places, making changes difficult to complete quickly.

As with many post-war properties, Concord Village, a seven-building, 1,025-unit cooperative in downtown Brooklyn, heat wasn't distributed evenly, forcing shareholders to cope by opening windows in the middle of winter to cool down their overheated units.

There were other ways the co-op was wasting energy, too. Take the stairwells: "On a windy day, you could hear the howling wind going through the staircase, and that was taking the hot air as well," says Catherine Woolston, a board member who pushed for change in the co-op.

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