New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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Updated Oct. 10, 2014 — Another limited-equity Mitchell-Lama co-op has taken its first major step toward converting to market-rate. As reports, a two-thirds majority vote of shareholders at the more than 1,600-unit Southbridge Towers in the Financial District has voted for privatization — meaning a windfall for those who paid paid $10,000 or less for an apartment bought with the understanding that in exchange for that pittance the next hardworking New Yorker needing an affordable home would have one when the current resident left. It's not quite a done deal: Two-thirds of the shareholders still have to sign an "opt-in agreement" to stay as an owner, or else opt-out to become a renter.

A misleading and in some instances factually inaccurate New York Post article regarding an Airbnb-related lawsuit was re-reported by outlets including The Real Deal, the New York Business Journal,,, and others, creating misimpressions of the case's significance and attributing to a judge a statement he did not make.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a condominium board sues its developer. a co-op buyer sues a seller, and a co-op shareholder sues his neighbor. Plus, a lawyer sues his clients, whom he'd represented against a co-op board. Ah, springtime in New York!  We've also a co-op board trying to evict an agoraphobic transgender smoker, but hey, that could happen anywhere....

Lower Manhattan’s iconic Woolworth Building is poised to break a price record: Developer Alchemy Properties is listing the penthouse apartment, a mammoth nine-story unit, at $110 million, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. The previous record-holder in that general area was the penthouse at the Walker Tower in Chelsea, which sold for $50.9 million in January.

Because the price for the Woolworth penthouse is only on the offering plan as of now, it’s difficult to predict whether it will actually sell for that or what the taxes might be on such an expensive condominium unit. Eric Weiss, a tax attorney and partner at the law firm of Tuchman, Korngold, Weiss, Liebman & Gelles, says even making an educated guess at the taxes is difficult because according to New York State tax law, the amount is based on not the apartment's market price but on its theoretical, "comparable" rental value. “The problem is there really isn't a rental market for that [kind of unit],” he says. Since the annual property-tax bill on the Walker Tower penthouse is nearly $49,000, he notes, it’s easy to imagine the Woolworth Building taxes breaking at least six figures.

The condo board at Five Nine John Lofts, at 59 John Street, has failed in its attempt to prevent the New York City Probation Department from moving its adult facilities down the street to 66 John Street. According to, a Manhattan Supreme Court judge ruled that the condominium filed its lawsuit too late – and it probably wouldn’t have prevailed based on the facts anyway.

Have any problematic city facilities come to your own neighborhood? Are any planning to? Let your fellow board members and homeowners know on Board Talk.

The practice of turning apartments into hotel rooms or bed-and-breakfasts has become so common that it has attracted the attention of legislators, the State's bar association and the State attorney general. Co-op and condo board members, as well as apartment-owners concerned about non-vetted, non-background-checked strangers roaming halls and stairwells, should know what's going on, in order to keep the pressure on elected representatives.

Patrick Kennell, president of the board of directors at The South Star condominium, offers advice on how to handle illegal bed-and-breakfast setups in your building. Kennell and the board spent two years litigating a case against Sophie Grishanova, a unit-owner who refused to stop renting her apartment to short-term guests.

A New York State Supreme Court judge reinstated a previous order banning Africa Israel, developer of 15 Broad Street (pictured), from co-op and condo sales in the state. According to TheRealDeal.comJudge Debra James rejected a bid by Africa Israel to lift the ban. She also left the remainder of the restraining order intact, ordering him to release control of the board to unit-owners.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, condo-owners at the landmarked American Tract Society Building a.k.a. 150 Nassau Street, swill be welcoming a Denny's restaurant, after all. Well, maybe "welcoming" is too strong a word. In Brighton Beach, the ultra-green condo at 67 Brighton 1st Lane may or may not still be called Bright N' Green, but it's back in the news. Upcoming Late Night host Seth Meyers buys in Greenwich Village. And condo owners at The Lennox say its construction was bollocksed. Plus: Tips on spotting a friendly / liberal co-op board.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. As the year ends, some things don't change. To wit: Two Financial District condo boards and Pace University have filed a lawsuit to keep a city Probation Department center out of the neighborhood; co-op shareholders at Dunham House on the Upper East Side are fighting a retailer who threatens to block their views; and a condo board in Flushing, Queens, is getting sued for its treatment of a Buddhist church. Man, who hates Buddhists? Plus, one of the New York Giants is renting out his condo apartment during Super Bowl week since, let's face it, the Giants have no reason to stick around.

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