New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, police name an accomplice in the Penn South co-op embezzlement, and one Financial District condo board gets sued over cell-phone antennas while another hopes Denny's won't grand-slam into their luxury building. In other lawsuit news, a Murray Hill co-op board misses a deadline in a discrimination lawsuit. Note to self: Don't hire that lawyer. Plus, see how all the changes in the co-op / condo tax abatement play out with LLCs and trusts — trust us, you want to know. And Bruce Willis buys hard on the Upper West Side.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, they do love their cigarettes in Queens, a Long Islander may face eviction for burning the wrong kind of firewood and Petey the Pig's "parents" are trying to sell their co-op apartment and fine a more swine-friendly place. There's a Harlem co-op / condo expo April 6-7. And where the wild things aren't is in the late Maurice Sendak's co-op, now up for sale. Plus, for condo and condo and co-op boards, we've advice on mediation.

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This year, the Coliseum Park Apartments on the west side of Manhattan installed an electronic key-fob system across 32 exterior and common-area doors. The technology, already widespread in new condominium developments, opens doors wireless and keylessly, and the data provided, like that of security cameras, helps allow the co-op's building management to target and control access. Yet once your co-op or condo board has decided to use a key-fob system and your residents are aboard, what are the steps to actually getting it installed?

Soon after taking over as managing agent on the 42-building 420-apartment West Village Houses complex in lower Manhattan, Lawrence Properties had to cope with the devastating effects of superstorm Sandy, which knocked out power and flooded the basement and ground-floor apartments, leaving 33 families homeless. "Almost 10 percent of our apartments have been destroyed by the storm," says co-op board president Jim Bozart. "There's been extreme dislocation, lots of suffering, most of the people are not back in those units. They've been gutted."

How did the management company and the board work together in the wake of this disaster? And what can your own co-op or condo board learn from it? Bozart and Lawrence Managing Director Anton Cirulli spoke with Habitat editorial director Tom Soter about their experiences.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, are the primarily Polish residents of The South Star condominium prejudiced against the Russian lady, or do they just not like her illegal hoteling? Plus, U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Hauppauge) talks HUD money for superstorm-Sandy repair grants, the CityRealty website revamps and Chelsea Clinton buys a condo, in neither Chelsea nor Clinton. And for condo and co-op boards, we've got noise-and-nuisance fights on the Lower East Side and in Tribeca.

It often feels as if whatever we're experiencing as board members can't possibly be true elsewhere — no one would believe the work, the responsibilities and the decision-making entrusted to volunteer laypersons. Yet you're not alone — others understand. Mary Fran, co-op board president of the 387-unit Park Terrace Gardens n the Inwoodsection of Manhattan, certainly does. In part two of her year-in-the-life diary, the head of this five-building complex's nine-member board details what she and her compatriots struggle with at their monthly meetings. You can probably relate.

In the final entries of co-op board president Mary Fran's 2013 meeting diary, she closes the year with the results of the Local Law 11 façade work, assessment issues and the annual elections at the 387-unit, five-building Park Terrace Gardens in the Inwoodsection of Manhattan. What she and her board went through — is that what you go through, too?

Mary Fran is a fairly typical board member, dedicated and determined, who has served three years as a member-at-large, one year as the vice president and then a year (so far) as president. Her home, Park Terrace Gardens in the Inwood section of Manhattan, is a fairly typical property of its type: a five-building, 387-unit cooperative built in 1939-40 and incorporated as a cooperative in the mid-1980s. It has a nine-member board, four supers, five porters, and a resident manager and her assistant in an onsite office.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, Penn South goes south, and $190,000 went with it. Plus, New York officials want banks to release insurance money that's due superstorm Sandy victims, a co-op has constant drunken revelers in its garden, and does monthly maintenance ever decrease?  And for condo and co-op boards, what do you do with a dog that bites? What about if the owner is a little old man?

The Apple Store, located on Broadway and 68th Street, is a glass box: beautiful, elegant, and refined – less a computer shop, more an experience. To the north of it sits the Bel Canto, a 76-unit condominium that towers over the store. Neighbors, sure, but when representatives from the two buildings began talking, they didn’t swap stories about Macs or PCs. The topic was real estate, specifically Local Law 11. The issue seemed simple: the 27-story Bel Canto needed to repair its façade, and it needed permission – a so-called “access agreement” – to work over the roof of the five-story Apple Store.

How hard is that?

Very, it turns out. “It took us three years of negotiations to come to an agreement,” recalls Andrea Bunis, the president of Andrea Bunis Management. And after three years of talk, “they only gave us about 90 days to do the work.”

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