New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine October 2020 free digital issue

HABITAT

GREENWICH VILLAGE

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.

A Board Works Together on a Roof-Deck Amenity, Enhancing Resale Value

Written by Greenwich Village board president Gerald Goldstein on April 01, 2014

45 W. 10th Street, Greenwich Village, Manhattan

I moved to my building, a Greenwich Village co-op at 45 West 10th Street, in the late 1970s. I was drawn to the location. I knew it would be a nice place to live — but it turned out to be a very nice place to live. I never thought about it before, but our board contains six professionals. We have a retired attorney, a professor, a financial executive, a photographer and a real estate executive, and I'm in the textile business. It gives us a professional air; everybody contributes. It also helps that I run my own company — that means I bring a business sense to the board. We don't always agree at first, but we end up agreeing in the end. It's a great co-op board.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a co-op board didn't want to let a diabetic senior with Parkinson's disease have air conditioners since, really, what's more important? Your life and health or your building's aesthetic profile? Elsewhere, a hedge-fund giant wants what he wants at his condo's pool — but can he fight the condo's moms and win? In Tribeca a gym is out, in Greenwich Village Philip Seymour Hoffman's last apartment is on sale, and in NoMad — yes, NoMad, that's a thing — there's a high-tech condo called Huys, pronounced "house." Plus, here's what'll happen at your own apartment huys if workers go on strike.

Around 2 o'clock one dead-of-winter January morning, the telephone rang on Asher Bernstein's bedside table. The co-op board president of the 100-unit Butterfield House in Greenwich Village picked up the receiver and found himself listening to the agitated voice of his building's superintendent.

Bill Bissell said, "Asher, there's a flood! You better go take a look at 13th Street — it looks like the Hoover Dam opened up!"

Around 2 o'clock one dead-of-winter January morning, the telephone rang on Asher Bernstein's bedside table. The co-op board presidents of the 100-unit Butterfield House in Greenwich Village picked up the receiver and found himself listening to the agitated voice of his building's superintendent.

Bill Bissell said, "Asher, there's a flood! You better go take a look at 13th Street — it looks like the Hoover Dam opened up!"

Every successful cooperative or condominium needs an Ideas Guy, the one who says: "We need this, we want this, and let me tell you why." At the 325-unit Brevoort East at 20 East 9th Street in Greenwich Village, 31-year co-op board veteran Jay Silverzweig is it. His own mantra for what makes a project succeed consists of three words: "conception and execution." Recent cogeneration and Local Law 11 initiatives are among the many works he has overseen since moving here in 1982. In fact, he describes infrastructure projects and financial affairs as "my little niche in the building."

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a 63-year-old woman in a Fifth Avenue co-op has had the same Maytag washer in her apartment for 20 years with permission and without trouble. Now the co-op board won't approve a replacement unless it's one of three hoity-toity brands. Well, lah-de-dah ... Maytag's not good enough for 'em? Let's go to court! And court may be where Trump Village West board president Igor Oberman might wind up, since a New York City Department of Investigation report accuses him of less-than-ethical things. Plus, Co-op City has an asbestos problem. Or does it?

In 1950, a young Jay Silverzweig, the owner of a plastics business, watched electricity costs take a toll on his neighbors in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Two fellow entrepreneurs, who used steam to clean rags, finally decided to get off the electric grid and worked out a cogeneration system (or CHP, i.e., "combined heat and power") that uses natural gas to produce electrical and thermal power.

More than 60 years later, those early experiments in alternative energy were lurking somewhere in Silverzweig's mind as he spearheaded the $1.5 million cogen project at the Brevoort East, a 26-story, 325-unit cooperative at 20 East 9th Street in Greenwich Village.

As the second storm of the week hit New York City and its environs, some managers say calcium chloride, or sidewalk salt, is in short supply. "We are running out," said Pamela DeLorme, president of Delkap Management, based in Howard Beach, Queens. "We bought a few thousand bags before the season began, but with the frequent storms, the substance is now in short supply." Delkap obtained about 2,000 bags of salt two weeks ago.

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