New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



How the Rutherford Rewrote Its Future

Written by Lisa Prevost on February 03, 2017

Gramercy Park

Updating governing documents can keep co-ops out of trouble – and court.

Dealing with the Deluge of Deliveries

Written by Paula Chin on January 24, 2017

Gramercy Park

Some co-op and condo boards manage to turn a nuisance into an opportunity.

A “Psychological Incentive” to Cut Water Use

Written by Marianne Schaefer on November 16, 2016

Gramercy Park

Co-op’s itemized maintenance bills break out cost of water.

There comes a time when a board needs to intervene with aging shareholders.

More old buildings fall to make way for more new condos.

The seven-story condo building on the site of the long-gone Christ Lutheran Church on East 19th Street is being billed as “affordable luxury.” What, exactly, does this only-in-New-York real estate oxymoron mean? It means that the lowest-priced of the seven full-floor apartments can be had for just $3 million. All apartments will have an outdoor space, and the penthouse comes with a private terrace. A “townhouse-style” duplex on the ground floor, with private back yard, is asking a bit more than $4 million.

“Affordable for the neighborhood,” as Curbed put it, “but maybe not for the average New Yorker.”

Maybe not?

Designed by Brent M. Porter Architects and developed by Yosi Cohen, the building will be clad in beige Kolumba bricks imported from Denmark, a departure from the ornate brickwork found throughout the neighborhood. Renderings of the stark exterior drew mixed reactions from Curbed readers. “Neo-Brutalism?” asked one. “It’s a lovely Soviet bunker!” said another.

What do you expect for a paltry $3 million?

Tamir Shemesh, who's heading the building's sales team for The Corcoran Group, says he prefers the term "Accessible Luxury." "$3 million is still a big price tag," he says, "though unfortunately in New York real estate today, it's not."

Paul Vercesi has been living in his apartment on Gramercy Park for more than half a century and is now president of the co-op’s board of directors. After all those years, he thought that he knew everything there was to know about the 81-unit post-war building and its systems. Then one day he got a watery surprise.

A doctor who used a ground-floor apartment as his office decided to move out. When the new shareholder started renovating the space, she discovered an outmoded water-cooled air conditioner inside a closet. 

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, residents' outrage over rodents reaches a roar in one middle-class Bronx neighborhood's historic old co-ops (albeit spelled "coops"). Meanwhile, in a more upscale area of the borough, a condominium gets millions in tax breaks. Life as usual, in other words. And speaking of taxes, we've news on the class-action suit aiming to make New York City's crazy property-tax calculations fairer, and an Upper East Side condo is suing the MTA for Second Avenue subway-related damage. Plus: Celebrities buy penthouses!

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, one of the world's richest condominiums has a big, circular driveway it won't let limo drivers use. Why should it? The NYPD looks the other way as a half-dozen or more limos idle daily in a no-parking zone, spewing fumes to other, less connected buildings. Very nice, 15 Central Park West. Meanwhile, rent-controlled seniors in a co-op are forced to evict their son, and a co-op board president admits that people were ahead of him in line when he took a four-bedroom apartment at the affordable-housing East Midtown Plaza. He doesn't have six people in his family like City rules say, but so what? He's just practicing to be the kind of people who live in 15 Central Park West.

The co-op board of our 118-unit building at 242 East 19th Street in Manhattan tried to change our bylaws for indemnification purposes one year and failed miserably. What we learned was that even though we think of ourselves as a tight-knit community, when it comes to the annual meeting, most  shareholders' agenda is usually to get out of the meeting as quickly as possible. They want to hear that their corporate structure is sound and that their investment and their shares in the co-op are increasing in value or at least holding their own. And so though we approached our shareholders with a tremendous amount of reasoning about why we wanted to be indemnified as a board, we did it at the annual meeting at the end of all of our regular business, and no one really wanted to sit around and listen or take part. We came up very, very short after the vote was taken.

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