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On the Money: A Brooklyn Co-op Saves Money Through Quick Action

Written by Jonathan Leaf. The first of a new biweekly column on board finances. on October 21, 2014

University Towers, 191 Willoughby Street, Fort Greene

"It's the lowest interest rate I've ever seen for 10-year money to a co-op." That was the reaction of Jordan Muchnick to the mortgage refinancing arranged last year with Morgan Stanley for University Towers at 191 Willoughby Street, in or on the edge of Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood.

One might not think Muchnick, being a vice president for lending at the property-management giant FirstService Residential, is totally objective — at least not until one hears the rate: 3.21%. That figure was made even more attractive as the loan amortizes not on a 30-year schedule but 23. Consequently, the co-op saw the benefits in refinancing with more than three years left on its old 10-year mortgage.

It happens more often than you might think, and it's a cautionary tale to all boards: Did we actually file the lawsuit we intended to? We think we did.

The two-building, 73-unit Clermont Greene condominium in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, has a seven-member board, with three of those members affiliated with the sponsor, Vanderbilt Mansions. The board, claiming construction defects, building code violations and hazardous conditions, hired Howard L. Zimmerman Architects to investigate. HLZA reported several defects related to inadequate or poor workmanship or designs that failed to meet industry standards.

The board began an action, asserting claims for breach of contract, warranty, and fiduciary duty. There was also a demand for an accounting. The sponsor's claim in response? That the board never authorized the start of the lawsuit at a properly noticed meeting of the board.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, for some reason, we're big on board-specific news: boards suing developers and residents, a board president squeezing "donations" from building vendors for a political bid and a board turning amateur cop and firing employees it suspects of thievery — hindering the investigation by actual cops. A George ZImmerman board, as it were. Plus, exclusive co-ops learn to compete for buyers and an alleged illegal hotelier has people arrested who complain! Man, late August is crazy!

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. Yet another restaurant, yet another building fighting it: Like the planned Denny's in FiDi and a still-unnamed Mexican place in Tribeca, the Atlantic Terrace co-op in Brooklyn (left) wants to say arrivederci to Tony Roma's. Plus, a shareholder's riled in Riverdale and we remember the Rembrandt, New York City's first co-op. And co-op / condo boards won't want to miss the lawsuit alleging a scam of Weekend at Bernie's proportions!

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, what can co-op and condo boards do about the illegal hotel one of the residents is running? Plus, we show you the the coolest construction netting in the world, and a resource for your own urban canvas when a netting need arises. And mother of mercy, is this the start of RICO? For co-op / condo buyers / sellers, a lawyer says what your lawyer should do for you when you buy or sell. And John Legend is selling his Bowery condo in order to buy on Broome.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, New York City cracks down on people illegally turning their apartments into hotel rooms. On the other hand, state legislators want to soften ILSA, the federal Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act that helps protect condominium buyers from bad developers — allegedly like the one the condo board at On Prospect Park is suing. Plus: What's an ongoing assessment, and how did the co-op board shut up that rooster? And Cynthia Nixon may no longer be your co-op neighbor, but David Duchovny might be your new one. The truth is out there — or it will be at the admissions interview.

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