New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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March 22, 2010 — A New York City sales-tax break that helped to make electricity more affordable is going away August 1. That's when customers of independent ESCOs — energy service companies — will have to pay the same 4.5 percent sales tax on the delivery side of your utility bill that Con Ed customers already pay. That's on top of the 4.5 percent city we currently pay on the supply side of both ESCO and Con Ed bills.

How much will it cost co-ops and condos? For one large co-op — Amalgamated Warbasse Houses in Brooklyn, a five-building, 2,585-unit co-op that went with an ESCO in 2007 — the additional taxes total an estimated $320,000 a year. If you want to do the math for your own building, that's an average of an additional $124 an apartment.

Set on a quiet street opposite Sunset Park in Brooklyn, the 1920s vintage Sun Garden Homes, a 70-unit, working-class co-op, installed a photovoltaic solar-power system in November on its sprawling, 12,500-square-foot roof. We've written about how the co-op board came to the decision to go solar, a move expected to save 30 percent on energy costs. The next step: How do condo and co-op boards pay for it?

The view from the roof of Sun Garden Homes, a 70-unit co-op in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, includes unobstructed sights of Green-Wood Cemetery, the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. But it is the roof itself that is the most remarkable: It is covered in solar panels. Sun Garden Homes installed the 50-kilowatt photovoltaic system in November, the first step in a long-term plan to reduce the building's energy usage dramatically. The building plans to overhaul its metering system, insulate and repaint its roof, improve boiler controls, and upgrade lighting, windows and toilets. The co-op anticipates the property's energy usage will drop by 30 percent from the solar and metering project alone.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a Long Island co-op struggle to finance common-area repair, not covered by FEMA, after superstorm Sandy; a condo super in Greenpoint risks blowing the place up; and rich folk got dem pied-à-terre blues. For co-op and condo boards, we've two tales of illegal hoteling — both with hilarious, albeit nefarious, behavior by the apartment owners. Plus, the latest amenity: onsite well-being programs.

Co-op Nightmare: A Treasurer Reveals How His Board Saved a Building

Written by Paul Hachmeyer, Board Treasurer, 7201 Owners Corp., Brooklyn on February 14, 2013

7201 Fourth Avenue, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

When someone brings up continuing education, we may think of going back to school and taking a class on something outside our career — maybe photography, or cooking. For a real education and experience, become a co-op or condo board member. I can't begin to say how much I've learned over my 20 years as co-op board treasurer at an 86-unit building in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. But I'll try to describe some of the issues and solutions.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, schools rent space in a co-op and a condo, easing those buildings' upkeep costs, and a lawsuit at a Midtown East co-op says a family has turned a hallway into their personal playroom. Plus, advice on co-op admissions interviews, how to increase your apartment's value, and Nets star Deron Williams bounces into a new condo.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, politicians continue to promise tax abatement. Still haven't passed it yet, though. Plus, an upscale Brooklyn condo forbids smoking in apartments, gardening space is the newest amenity and fans make pilgrimage to The Odd Couple's co-op apartment building in the wake of Jack Klugman's death. Your co-op apartment building should be so revered, bubala.

What's the buzz? In the case of Linda Cummings' one-bedroom condominium apartment at Foxwood Square in Staten Island, it was noise from the boiler room below her bedroom — a constant hum every October through May that was only matched, she says, by the overwhelming silence of a condo board that refused to correct the problem for over three years. And when it finally did so, says a sound engineer, it did it wrong. Why did this homeowner's pleas about noise fall on such deaf ears?

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, we pick up the pieces from Hurricane Sandy, with timely advice from insurers, property mangers and others, along with a sneak peek at an e-mail exchange among some condo owners in Lower Manhattan. Plus, a former doorman tells how incredibly cheap the billionaires are at 740 Park Avenue, and a free-speech case goes to court.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, even paying all-cash and additionally transferring a year's maintenance and $30,000 extra into an escrow wasn't enough for a Murray Hill co-op board being sued after allegedly leading a buyer on. Oh, and they also wanted his British documents translated to, um, English. And you wonder why a new sitcom makes fun of co-op boards. Plus, The Sheffield gets a work by renowned sculptor David Hostetler, and OSHA cites poor construction in a Brighton Beach condo collapse.

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