New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

HABITAT

MANHATTAN

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.”

It was no surprise that 200 East End Avenue was vulnerable to superstorm Sandy: The garage had been flooded once before during a Nor'easter. But no one anticipated how much devastation the storm would wreak on this 17-story tower.

In the early hours of October 29, building superintendent Scott Falk thought the co-op would weather the storm with little damage. The property sits on the edge of Franklin Delano Roosevelt Drive and the East River just past it, so Falk and his staff evacuated the garage and secured the sloping driveway and service entrance with sandbags. The rain wasn't as heavy as forecast and by late afternoon, the streets were relatively dry.

As he drove into the city from Long Island, Robert Mellman phoned environmental companies, hoping to get one onsite quickly to pump out the contaminated water. By the Orsid Realty property manager arrived, the building's electrician was there, working with Con Ed to cut power from the grid.

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.”

1... 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 ... 68

Ask the Experts

learn more

Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments

Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise

Source Guide

see the guide

Looking for a vendor?