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New Condo Boards Need to Pick Their Battles

Written by Bill Morris on January 07, 2019

Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn

Patrick Wong, the voice of experience, is serving on his second condo board.

Attorney General targets Rivington House seller in similar Bed-Stuy deal.

Another Key Food has bitten the dust to make way for what will probably be a new condo. Again. No, this is not a repeat from February of this year. The supermarket in question this time is — erm, was — located at 946 Myrtle Avenue, and it will be replaced by a new seven-story, 132-unit apartment building designed by Karl Fischer. YIMBY reports that "[Fischer] filed a new building application last October," and has obtained a rendering of the project. YIMBY adds that, according to the most recent filing, the building will be spread across 163,631 square feet of residential space, for an average unit of 1,239 square feet. That's a lot of new people coming to a neighborhood that will be down one supermarket. Let's hear it for limited resources! There may be light at the end of the grocery-less tunnel, however: it's a mixed-use building, which means there will be a commercial tenant. Hopefully, it will be another supermarket, but it's too soon to tell. "The rendering," explains YIMBY, "still depicts the 10-story version of the building, not the squatter 7-story structure sketched out on the new permits." We're guessing a few folks in the neighborhood don't care what the end product looks like as long as they get a comparably priced supermarket to replace the one they lost four months ago.

Rendering: Karl Fischer Architect.

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.

You can't fight City Hall, but you can laugh at its jokes. "We're telling landlords who are playing games, 'Hey the heat is on,'" says Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, referring to Heat Seek NYC — a pilot program that installs a digital thermometer in apartments and sends temperature readings to a central computer. Tenants and public advocates then can access that data to see if landlords aren't providing the legally required minimum of heat. The data can also let landlords knows if they're overheating apartments, wasting money and energy. Right now the program is confined to Brooklyn, with participants including the Carroll Gardens Association and Bedford-Stuyvesant's Bridge Street Development, reports Crain's New York Business.

Cooperatives fall under rental regulations regarding heat, so the device would be of benefit both in terms of shareholder comfort and board energy-management. It similarly would be of benefit to condominiums — although in one of those quirks of law, condo boards actually are not required to provide adequate heat. (See the second item here.)

Erected in 1905, the rental building at 34 Jefferson Avenue in Brooklyn, where the Clinton Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhoods meet, has a tangled history. Tenants took the landlord to court in 1979 and won permission to move toward becoming a limited-equity Housing Development Fund Corporation (HDFC) co-op.

But after three years, virtually no steps had been taken toward converting the 66-unit building. In 2001, some residents came up with a strategy. If the building stopped paying its real estate taxes, it would eventually become delinquent and would then qualify for New York City's "Third Party Transfer" (TPT) program.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, following the Independence Day holiday, we look at neighborhoods on the rise in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. Plus, an expert tells you about refinancing your co-op — and, for boards, another explains all about financing your super's apartment. And two TV / film notables sell their places: the late Celeste Holm's Central Park West abode gets bought, and The Simpsons' Hank Azaria, the voice of Apu, Moe, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy and more puts his Soho condo — Cindy Sherman's old place! — up for sale.

... co-op residents on Park Avenue win a victory over liquor sales, a new high-end condo is offering income-restricted apartments via lottery, co-op boards may be becoming more open to hardship sublets, and is Susan Sarandon your new neighbor in Brooklyn?

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