New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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An old lawsuit may impact a new campaign. Mark Greenberg, founder of the New York City- and Long Island-based real-estate management firm MGRE, is running for Congress on the Republican ticket in Connecticut's 5th District, where he lives. The local Democratic committee naturally prepared opposition research — which, reports The Hartford Courant, includes information about a 1996 lawsuit alleging Greenberg waived fee-collection from some residents of The Grand Chelsea condominium, at 270 West 17th Street in Manhattan, so that they would "refrain from pursuing their rights and claims against Defendant Greenberg" and that his company "improperly used its ability to influence or control the election of individuals to the [condo's] Board to pressure … Board Members to refrain from … exercising proper supervision over defendant Greenberg's activities." The case went on for six years, ending in 2002 with a "stipulation," the newspaper said. (Full disclosure: MGRE is a Habitat advertiser.)

Brookfield Property Partners plays Goliath in this tale. The four-story, 31-room Manhattan West Hotel plays David.

 

Go gang green! Except we're not talking about the New York Jets, but rather the New York City Parks Department and a very determined group of Chelsea residents.

Chelsea Now reports that a group of determined residents have finally succeeded in gaining funding to construct a new park at 140 W. 20th St., between Sixth and Seventh Aves. "Since 2010, a group of local residents has been advocating for a green space on what was once a parking lot and building used by the Department of Sanitation. They lobbied the city to designate the .23-acre space as parkland, raised $500,000 in private funding, and received $1 million through last year’s Participatory Budgeting process," writes Scott Stiffler. "The area roughly between Fifth and Seventh Aves. has the lowest proportion of green space relative to developed land in Manhattan, according to the Parks Department. A new park would help ameliorate that situation locally, while also furthering a city initiative to have 85 percent of city residents live within walking distance of a park by 2030." The next step is "a three-year process of environmental review, design, procurement and construction," with meetings for design scheduled for the spring.

It's no secret that sometimes the relationship between boards and building residents can be… toxic. And plenty of board members can attest that residents have accused them of taking kickbacks and bribes. Sometimes these accusations escalate and residents end up taking the matter to court. That's the case with one Chelsea co-op whose residents — well, a dozen of them, actually — claim, reports The Real Deal, "they were strong-armed into the shady sale of their building, alleging that the buyer, Galil Management, may have plied board members with cash or flashy new apartments." In the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in state Supreme Court, Galil and board members are accused of "concealing details of the building sale from the co-op's shareholders and harassing residents until they signed onto the deal, which needed 81 percent of the shareholders to succeed. The board members painted the building sale as an imperative move to avoid financial ruin for the co-op." According to TRD the group of residents say that during a shareholder meeting on August 19, the board informed them that if they didn't go through with the sail, the building would have to file for bankruptcy — a nightmare scenario that could have resulted in residents losing the entire value of their shares. "Galil also only gave the shareholders until Oct. 1 to agree to the sale and stipulated that the residents would need to be out by February 2016, effectively giving them only four months to find somewhere else to live," reports TRD, citing the lawsuit.  

At 3 A.M. Tuesday this week, a five-alarm fire broke out at the Dorian condo development. The fire spread quickly, engulfing the building's fourth, fifth, and sixth floors and required nearly 250 firefighters to finally contain it by 7 in the morning. Although the cause of the fire is still unknown, the nightmarish scene really could have been so much worse. For starters, nobody was hurt — it helped that the building was empty. The Real Deal reports that, fortunately (given the situation) a fire watch company was on site at the time of the blaze. Furthermore, "structural engineers and officials from the city’s Department of Buildings have inspected what remains of the building, and determined that it appears to be structurally sound." Citing a press release from the developer, TRD added that the site was fully insured, and [Delshah] plans proceed with work." Originally slated to be completed by the end of 2016, the Dorian will be a 40,000-square-foot luxury condo building with 14 units, including full-floor penthouses on the upper four floors. 

If we've said it once, we've said it a thousand times: no good deed goes unpunished. Serving on a co-op or condo building's board can be pretty thankless work, especially when things go bad. After a contractor hammered a nail into the floor, accidentally puncturing the gas pipe running underneath, Con Edison shut the gas off at Chelsea Seventh Condominium and left behind the dreaded red tag. The 120-unit condominium, located at 170 West 23rd Street, would remain gasless for the next four months. And people were not happy about it. 

Red-Tagged: A Condo Copes with Being Gasless

Written by Carol J. Ott on October 05, 2015

Chelsea

"The alteration was approved. He was installing a basic floor," recalls Dee DeGrushe, account manager at Orsid Realty. It was early April, and she had no reason to suspect that events would quickly turn from something mundane into something momentous.

But they did.

While the contractor was hammering a nail into the floor, he accidentally banged into a gas pipe running underneath. He punctured it. "You could immediately smell it," DeGrushe says, "and you could hear the 'shh' sound." The contractor came screaming out of the apartment. DeGrushe was at the building in under 20 minutes. Within the hour, Chelsea Seventh Condominium was "red-tagged" by Con Edison, and the gas shut off to the entire building. The 120-unit condominium, located at 170 West 23rd Street, would remain gasless for the next four months.

 

Here's a story that may potentially stoke the ire of some New Yorkers boil. It looks like U.S. taxpayers will be footing a $1.5 million bill for a luxury condo in Chelsea. Wait for it… Made of wood. According to DNAinfo, if the Department of Buildings approves the construction plans, a 10-story building made mostly of wood could rise at 475 West 18th Street. The development "won a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Softwood Lumber Board for research into how to work with engineered wood for construction, according to a department announcement," DNAinfo reported. You know New York has changed when developers are building things made out of wood on purpose. Designed by the SHoP, who also worked on the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the 120-foot wooden structure will be located across the street from the High Line. It will have commercial space on the ground floor (hope it's not a restaurant) and will have 15 two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments.

Photo of wooden high rise by SHoP

When you live in a crowded city like New York where space is at a premium, you have to be a little creative. Take, for instance, the condo heading to West Chelsea. YIMBY got an updated look at the cantilevering project that will rise at 251 West 14th Street. Designed by ODA and developed by B+B Capital, "the structure will be relatively small, and the assemblage allows for a building measuring 24,000 square feet. Condominiums are currently envisioned, with 11 floor-through units planned," reports YIMBY, adding: "Cantilevers are becoming typical among the larger towers in New York City, but their application when it comes to smaller-scale construction is significantly more limited." Hey, it may not be the ideal choice for someone with vertigo, but it sure does look cool.

Rendering of 251 West 14th Street by ODA

As the general manager of the 2,820-unit Chelsea cooperative called Penn South, Brendan Keany is in charge of a massive $145 million undertaking that began in 2011 and will be finishing later this year: the replacement of the worn-out heating, ventilating, and air-cooling pipes that are wrapped in asbestos and buried behind every apartment's plaster walls. It has meant gaining access to every shareholder's apartment. That's more than knocking on the door or making an appointment. It has involved conducting a preliminary inspection of all the apartments to see what condition they were in and examining the walls that hid the pipes to estimate how big an opening had to be made. It has meant finding a place for some of the elderly residents to stay when work was to be performed in their units. It has meant dealing with no air-conditioning for some shareholders on blistering hot days. It has involved dealing with the debris collected by hoarders.

In short, a nightmare. 

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