New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

HABITAT

MANHATTAN

The Sheffield, a nearly 600-unit luxury condominium at 322 West 57th Street, has weathered its share of travails. Built in 1978 as a rental near the dowdy old Coliseum, it was purchased for condo conversion in 2005 and briefly became Sheffield57. You may recall that as the site of a widely publicized lawsuit by the condo-owner association against the conversion developer, and of subsequent adroit negotiations that saved the place from a second-rate fate.

And now comes the curious case of the male escort, carrying less the poignant charm of Liz Taylor in Butterfield 8 than it does the rueful chuckles of Rob Schneider's Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo.

As initially reported by The Real Deal's Leigh Kamping-Carder, the condo board of The Sheffield filed a lawsuit in New York Supreme Court on March 1 against attorney Bruno Cova and his wife Bettina Beck, owners of the apartment where police arrested Stephan Greving last October on a misdemeanor count of prostitution. Greving, who pleaded guilty and was released on his own recognizance, advertised through a make-escort website with the charmingly evocative name Rentboy.com.

Nestled in the tony confines of the Gramercy Park Historic District, this five-unit condo found a way to install modern energy-efficient windows without damaging the historic character of its facade.

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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