New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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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.

May the city install bike-share terminals in front of your building? That was the issue discussed in Cambridge Owners Corp. v. New York City Department of Transportation.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) decided to install a bike-share station in front of The Cambridge, a roughly 137-apartment co-op at 175 West 13th Street in Manhattan. The Citi Bike program consists of 6,000 bicycles docked in more than 300 self-service share stations around the city. Members of the public can rent the bikes from, and return them to, any station in the system, which is open around the clock.

New York's infamous 1950s white-brick buildings have long been considered white elephants — and at the storied Greenwich Village co-op 2 Fifth Avenuea $30.7 million assessment to replace such aged and dangerous bricks came out to an elephantine six-figure payment per shareholder. In a four-year odyssey chronicled by The New York Times, old board-members got booted out, new ones came in, building management got replaced and a three-tier assessment plan was created to ensure that all owners could pay and not default. And despite recriminations early on, the building's community wound up bonding strongly. Find out how the residents and board members pulled it off — and what gold cuff links shaped like hardhats have to do with it. 


Disaster never strikes at a convenient time, but the timing of this one was particularly bad.

Butterfield House, a 100-unit co-op in Greenwich Village, had just begun an $8 million capital improvement campaign that will eventually replace all windows and heating and air-conditioning units, redo the hallways, install a backup generator on the roof and increase the electric capacity available to each apartment. But when a City water main broke on Jan. 15, these upgrades and several major apartment renovations were halted. Fortunately, the inconveniences were eased because the building made it a point to keep residents in the loop about the situation — and to follow the playbook it had created for just such an occasion.

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Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments

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