Sponsors are bending to condo buyers' demands.

Sponsor not responsible for $2 million in construction flaws.

Condo conversion to feature a “jam room” for musicians.

Once upon a time there was a bakery at 331-333 Kent Avenue. When artist Cosimo Cavallaro bought the building, he had big plans for it. Brownstoner reports that, in 2004, Cavallaro wanted to convert the once bakery-then artist loft into an 11-story luxury condo called Punctilio. It was not to be, however. In 2012, the spacious building near the Williamsburg Bridge sold for $5,000,000. All we know about the new owner is that it's an LLC. And thanks to Brownstoner we also know that the mystery owner plans to develop a huge gallery space with apartments, most likely condos. "The first two floors will house a cafe, reception and art gallery over 7,805 square feet…. A two-story addition is [also] planned, which will house two duplex apartments with terraces over 4,663 square feet." The Department of Buildings (DOB) has reportedly given a thumbs down to the planned expansions. And we agree with Brownstoner, which praised the modernity of the new design, but added: "We think it would be even better if the original building were restored, arched brick windows and all."

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?

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.

Illegal hoteling is any building's bête noire. But, reports Ronda Kaysen in her her New York Times "Ask Real Estate" column, one Williamsburg, Brooklyn, condo board is doing what other beleaguered boards should and just slapping a fine on miscreant — who, if they want to play the "it's not an illegal rental, it's my friend / cousin" game can then damn well try to pull that crap with a judge in court. Perjury, anyone? Just make sure your bylaws allow you to levy that fine. And besides, when an apartment-owner rents to a short-term tenant in violation of New York State laws and most co-op / condo bylaws, that tenant can be hard for the owner to evict. The same column answers a Carroll Gardens condo-board question about short-term rentals. Who knew Brooklyn was such an epicenter of this?

Following corruption charges last week by nearly 900 residents of the Brooklyn Mitchell-Lama co-op Lindsay Park Housing, the local Community Board chair and two New York City Council members, the co-op board issued a statement denying those claims. Critics allege the board exploits "general proxies," which don't name a candidate, rather directed proxies, which name a specific candidate, in order to keep board members in power.

According to DNAInfo.com, the board says its election practices are fair and monitored by an independent third party approved by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and that the dissident Shareholders for the Betterment of Lindsay Park is "a group of relatively uninformed and disappointed tenant-shareholders, who have not been able to have members of their group elected to the Lindsay Park Board and who oppose needed maintenance increases at Lindsay Park." The board said directed proxies are "restrictive" to the democratic process and that there was "no basis" to "unsubstantiated charges of 'corruption.'"

DNAInfo said the board is is verifying signatures on the group's petition to change the method of proxy voting, and will hire an election company to monitor the special meeting that per the co-op's bylaws must be held within 10 to 40 days of the petition's submission.

With their local Community Board chairperson in agreement and on their side, nearly 900 residents of Brooklyn's Mitchell-Lama Lindsay Park Housing Cooperative (click image to enlarge) are petitioning to change a board election process they say leads to an entrenched board that is secretive, non-responsive and, as 64-year-old Elizabeth Blizinska told DNAInfo.com, "a dictatorship."

The co-op board of the seven-building Williamsburg complex gathers "general proxies" that don't name a candidate, rather than "directed proxies" that do — which the bylaws allow. The corruption comes in, petitioners say, when the longtime board president uses the proxies to re-elect herself and her allies, sometimes after having misled or intimidated immigrant and elderly residents into signing away a vote. CB1 chair Dealice Fuller agrees with the dissidents. Board president Cora Austin has denied knowledge of any petition, said DNAInfo, but the website cited memos Austin sent to residents earlier this month warning them not to sign it.

“It was a big deal, a big undertaking,” says Jay Silverberg, principal in Zenith Properties. He’s not kidding, either: take a 21-member board in a seven-building co-op complex, add a $4 million project to convert 10 boilers in three boiler rooms from No. 6 heating oil to natural gas, factor in Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) involvement because it’s a Mitchell-Lama (subsidized) property, and consider that HPD restrictions prohibit loans – and the undertaking doesn’t just seem big. It seems impossible.

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