New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021



Never Mind the Windows, A Board Upgrades the Boiler

Written by Tom Soter, with additional reporting by Kathryn Farrell on January 07, 2015

51 Fifth Avenue, Greenwich Village, New York City

They would have preferred to have new windows before they got a boiler upgrade, but the seven professionals who were sitting on the board of the 95-unit co-op were not fools about fuel: getting something for nothing trumps a room with a view (even through new windows). Every time.

The saga started when the manager of 51 Fifth Avenue, Ellen Kornfeld, a vice president at the Lovett Group, alerted the board to a program Con Edison offers through its Oil to Gas Conversion Group. Simply put, as long as the building (1) is a qualified property converting from oil to natural gas; and (2) is requesting a "firm" (i.e., the building only burns natural gas) gas connection, the utility will bring in gas from the street to "the point of entry" (essentially, where the pipe connects with the building). All this depends on another factor, as well: whether the pipes in your area have sufficient capacity.

What does the developer of a high-end residential building do to sell an apartment in a condominium that is still being built? At the sales gallery for Greenwich Lane, a large residential complex being built in Greenwich Village where St. Vincent's Hospital once stood, they show potential buyers the Table, reports The New York Times, which describes it as "an 84-inch iPad on steroids." And it's been doing some heavy lifting. The Times reports that the Table helped to sell 100 apartments before the developer even had the chance to produce the first brochure. Just a tap and a swipe and voila! It's just one of the tools in a technological arsenal that developers across the city are leveraging to sell, sell, sell. As the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention, and this technology is pretty impressive. Welcome to the world of tomorrow. 

Updated Nov. 30 and Dec. 3 — An attorney in Manhattan is challenging the legal foundation of New York City's efforts to prosecute short-term renters, saying the term "illegal hotel" is a misnomer without basis in law and that the City routinely condones unconstitutional warrantless searches and other questionable actions. 

Discovering that your co-op or condo has a ground lease — a real-estate instrument in which your cooperative or condominium corporation owns the building but only leases the land, usually for periods of up to 99 years — can be unnerving. Why? Because you have to pay a monthly ground-rental fee atop your maintenance or common charges and because ground leases can be detrimental to sales: Lenders don't like to offer loans when the building has, say, less than 30 years left on a lease.


What do you do when your building doesn't own the land on which it sits? 

Yes, that's a thing — it's called a "ground lease," a real estate instrument in which a cooperative or a condominium corporation owns the building but only leases the land. Usually it's for long periods of up to 99 years, after which, theoretically, the landowner can tell the board to move the building elsewhere. And in the meantime, your monthly payments include ground rent.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced that his administration has taken enforcement action against two Manhattan building owners who are operating illegal hotels. This follows the release yesterday of a new report by the State Attorney General showing that nearly three-quarters of Airbnb's rentals in New York City are illegal, violating zoning and other state laws.

A 40-year fixture of Greenwich Village, the gay bar and lately drag mecca Boots & Saddle, is finding both neighborhood and condo-board opposition to a proposed move to a new home at 47 Seventh Avenue South. At a recent Community Board 2 meeting, reports, a half-dozen local residents said the bar would bring noise and disruption to what one called "our enclave." And representatives of the building's condo board said its bylaws prohibit a bar with live entertainment in the ground-floor space, a one-story extension of the building on a commercial strip of Seventh Avenue South. It previously housed the restaurant Soy and Sake (image below).

Soy and Sake - 47 7th Ave. S. - website of defunct restaurant

CB2's State Liquor Authority committee unanimously rejected the bar's application to transfer its liquor license to the new spot, and while the vote is only advisory, the Authority takes Community Board decisions seriously. One resident asked CB2, "What about the kids walking by?" To which one can only suggest, "First, what are little kids doing wandering around late at night? And second, what's wrong with kids seeing drag performers? This isn't the suburbs — it's New York City. Greenwich Village." Or at least it used to be.

"Hell is other people," said Jean-Paul Sarte. And if he'd lived at 166 Perry Street, that other person would be Richard Easton — a condo tenant who, according to a lawsuit by unit-owner Elena Teranina, has been engaged in activities "of such a nature that there is no telling when he might decide to verbally or physically attack someone, or to engage in vile or inappropriate conduct." As she and at least one neighbor told the New York Daily News, this includes tossing knives at deliverypersons, ordering the staff to call him "Prince," walking through the lobby in his underwear and demanding oral sex from a female building employee. So is this the case of some poor soul with serious mental problems, who needs help and not persecution? Given the fact that Easton — who claims it's all a merry mixup — is a high-profile matchmaker who's appeared on The Real Housewives of New York, we're going to go out on a limb and say probably not.


Water can sneak into a building from anywhere. At 40-50 East 10th Street in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, it was joints in the front sidewalk allowing water to flow in and cause problems."We were worried about flooding damage and erosion, and water-main problems that caused flooding in our building,’ says co-op board president Larry Hohlt. So how did the 114-unit building handle it?

Call it the battle over the bikes. New York City's year-old Citi Bike bicycle-sharing program may be suffering many well-publicized problems with its docking stations, but now some buildings are challenging its very existence. Four co-op and condo boards have taken legal action to get the fixtures removed or modified.

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