HABITAT

MANHATTAN

Board Service: How a Co-op Turned a Gas Outage into a Positive

Written by Alan Kramer, President, 17 W. 67th Street. One in an occasional series of real-life stories by board members about serving on co-op and condo boards. on January 05, 2012

Upper West Side, Manhattan, 17 W. 67th Street

Many people spend their weekends working with real estate brokers, scouring the city for the "right" apartment in the "right" building. I took a different route: I found the "right" woman, with the "right" apartment, in the "right" building, and married into our co-op 27 years ago.

Lance Kolb, manager of the 650-unit Schwab House co-op, on Manhattan's Upper West Side remembers being struck by how unappealing the doormen's uniforms seemed.

"I can't even remember them," he says grimly. "Maybe I blocked them out. All I remember is that they were brown and ugly." His recommendation: Replace all 50 staff uniforms.

The way you dress your staff can affect curb appeal — and also send a message on how you run your building. "This isn't an area to save money on," observes one manager. If the braid on the trousers frays at the hem and looks "ratty," to use another manager's word, don't assume a potential buyer won't notice.

Oct. 13, 2011 Paul Backalenick has been the president at 24-42 Bennett Avenue, a 56-unit cooperative in the Hudson Heights section of Manhattan, for three years. Replacing an autocratic, unpopular chief executive, Backalenick brought an easygoing style, seeking out consensus, not confrontation. He has had great success in changing the tone of the talk – and in accomplishing a major capital improvement project involving the roof.

Backalenick sat down over breakfast with Habitat's editorial director, Tom Soter, to talk about life in this co-op. 

I'm the attorney for a small cooperative in downtown Manhattan. This past year, a shareholder whose apartment was on the market found a buyer who was willing to pay a very substantial price. The only problem for the co-op was that the buyer was an extremely wealthy European and, for privacy reasons, did not want to submit any financial disclosure information to the cooperative's board of directors. Moreover, because of potential U.S. tax consequences, this individual wanted to buy the unit in the name of a corporate entity.

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