New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a Long Island co-op struggle to finance common-area repair, not covered by FEMA, after superstorm Sandy; a condo super in Greenpoint risks blowing the place up; and rich folk got dem pied-à-terre blues. For co-op and condo boards, we've two tales of illegal hoteling — both with hilarious, albeit nefarious, behavior by the apartment owners. Plus, the latest amenity: onsite well-being programs.

For E. Cooke Rand, a co-op board member at a 48-year-old white-brick building on East 84th Street, his board's initial decision to install a gym "was made conditionally, to explore the idea — what would be entailed, what all the equipment would be. We had a subcommittee of the board, three people, who did the bulk of the work and kept reporting to us — doing all this exploration to see what it could cost and whether the space was suitable. The process wasn't getting together one night, making a decision, and turning it over. We consulted through the managing agent and directly with knowledgeable architects."

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, schools rent space in a co-op and a condo, easing those buildings' upkeep costs, and a lawsuit at a Midtown East co-op says a family has turned a hallway into their personal playroom. Plus, advice on co-op admissions interviews, how to increase your apartment's value, and Nets star Deron Williams bounces into a new condo.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, FEMA extends the filing deadline for homeowners, including co-op shareholders and condo unit-owners, applying for grants, some nervous neighbors at a co-op jump to conclusions, and a condo-owner has an overhead problem in the form of a heavy cell-phone tower. Plus, for co-op and condo boards, the tax-abatement renewal bill has passed the New York State Senate. Now will it get through the Assembly?

Installing solar panels on the roof of your co-op or condo isn't the easiest thing to do. The New York City permitting process can be cumbersome, and not all buildings are good candidates. A property must have a large roof in good condition and, above all, gets ample sun: A building with too much shade will not get enough sunlight to generate energy.

Then there are the financials. If a building is structured as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, it won't benefit from some of the tax incentives. And since most of the financial incentives come in the form of a rebate, a building's owners need to either have enough cash to pay for the project up front or be able to qualify for a loan.

It is not easy preparing for 40 feet of floodwater. And in the early hours of October 29, the 17-story co-op at 200 East End Avenue in Manhattan suffered just such a surge at the hands of Superstorm Sandy. Since then, the building's staff, co-op board and managing agent know what they would do differently next time in terms of preparation — and what they would do the same. "You can't over-prepare and you can't over-communicate," says Neil Davidowitz, president of the building's management company, Orsid Realty. Here's what this co-op's board and professionals recommend ... from harsh firsthand experience.

Looking around the Hamilton Heights/Sugar Hill District in Upper Manhattan, Albelisa Kemp, a project manager at Rand Architecture and Engineering, admits to a little disappointment. “It’s a beautiful district; there’s some really amazing stonework. But the level of decay is sad. The landlords and residents just don’t care.”

An exception to that trend is 470 Convent Avenue. The six-story Beaux Arts brick building, designed by architects Gross & Kleinberger and constructed in 1911, is undergoing a vast exterior, roof, and window renovation. “The building is an icon,” says board president Michael Davu. “We have eight commercial stores on what is not a commercial avenue. People come to the neighborhood from everywhere, so we get a lot of foot traffic.”

An onsite gym has become standard in virtually all new developments, and many older buildings are retrofitting to include them. In two past articles we've looked at how real estate professionals value them, and at the standard steps co-op and condo boards take to make the decision and to make it a reality. Now we look at the final piece: security and insurance.

Far beyond being a trend, gyms, also known as health clubs and fitness centers, are becoming as ubiquitous as lobbies and elevators. You'd be hard put to find a single new-construction condominium that doesn't have one, and many older cooperatives and condos, anxious to stay up-to-date, are weighing the option so as not to look like dumbbells. "If you don’t have one, you’re at a competitive disadvantage," says Deanna Kory, a senior vice president and associate broker at Corcoran Group Real Estate. "There are people who look at two similarly sized apartments who will be swayed to the building with the gym — often."

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, we're still waiting for the New York State legislature to keep its commitment to renew the tax abatement that tries to equalize co-op / condo property taxes with those of single-family homes and townhouses. Plus, experts advise you on preparing your co-op admission package, on upping your credit score and on not rushing into a mortgage. For condo and co-op boards we've expert advise on the best and worst types of commercial tenants you can have in your building. And for Coen heads, we've word on Ethan's apartment

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