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Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents.

This week, a co-op shareholder in Queens complains about a neighbor's noise and gets heard in court, and a condo board in Chelsea sues a commercial gym over weighty noise issues. A newspaper says almost half the buildings that object to Cite Bikes don't get them, but you can't wait till you know they're coming. Bike 22. What's the latest luxury amenity? On Park and Fifth Avenues, it's private restaurants just for residents and guests. Plus, Leonardo DiCaprio buys a "wellness" apartment in Greenwich Village. Yeah, we didn't know what that was, either. Sounds nice, though.

A Fifth Avenue Co-op Sees the (Energy-Efficient) Light

Written by Abigail Nehring, with additional reporting by Kathryn Farrell on August 28, 2013

51 Fifth Avenue, Greenwich Village, Manhattan

The limestone base, decorative fireplaces and beamed ceilings of 51 Fifth Avenue recall a bygone era of ease and elegance. It's little wonder, then, that the 1928 building was chosen to represent the home of the characters on the hit 1990s sitcom Mad About You. For those with longer memories for distinguished luminaries, former New York Governor Al Smith moved to 51 Fifth after losing the presidential election to Herbert Hoover, and lived there until the 1940s.

Last year, luminance of a different sort was on the mind of one building employee. At night, the superintendent, Zoltan Papp, would watch the sun go down from his office at the 89-unit Greenwich Village cooperative. Then the floodlights in the backyard would come on — and stay on all night, casting chiaroscuro shadows in the empty outdoor space until a timer switched them off at dawn.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a luxury building is actually chintzy, its non-union doormen argue. And a Staten Island board seems rather cheesy, if the parking-space perks its members gave themselves is any indication. A court puts the brakes on a co-op's attempt to be rid of a Citi Bike rack. And a condo-owner in Chelsea gets concrete results — from a construction site dripping it onto his patio. Plus, for condo and co-op boards, an attorney finds yet another novel way of dealing with unit-owner deadbeats.

At 51 Fifth Avenue, the co-op board came into possession last year of a 2,000-square-foot two-bedroom apartment overlooking a church. The board enlisted a broker who told them to put the apartment on the market for $1.5 million as is. That's when the property manager stepped in and put a stop to it.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week there's a lot of news for boards in particular, with a growing wave of scammers falsely claiming disability in order to have dogs in a no-pet building, with the latest on publicly naming residents in arrears, with the expansion of no-smoking buildings, and with converting a club space to an apartment for resale. Plus: families buying multiple apartments together, broker-free sales and Judge Judy (above) buys in Sutton Place.

“The building is solid,” says Larry Hohlt, the retired lawyer who also heads up the nine-member board at what he calls a “classic prewar” — this 107-unit East Village co-op.

For proof, he points to a worker who tried to drill through a wall – only to break his drill bit on the brick that lay beneath the surface. “They built these buildings very, very well,” he says of the Depression-era property. “The building aged gracefully.”

When a prospective buyer wants to view the minutes of a condo or co-op board before purchasing an apartment, it's important to take the request the seriously. "If the board declines," says David L. Berkey, a partner at Gallet Dreyer & Berkey, "I think that can detract from the saleability of the apartment or may affect the pricing,"

Most boards release an edited version of minutes, or a summary, that leaves out specific details on a variety of topics, such as financial issues, potential litigation, and debates over purchases and contracts before they are made. Very few boards go to the other extremes: detailing and releasing everything from the meeting in their minutes or releasing nothing at all.

How My Co-op Board Created a 10-Year Capital-Improvement Plan That Works

Written by Larry Hohlt, board president, 40-50 E. 10th Street, Manhattan on April 11, 2013

40-50 E. 10th Street, Greenwich Village, Manhattan

My wife and I lived in a house in Brooklyn Heights for almost 30 years before moving to 40-50 E. 10th Street nearly 12 years ago. It's a great building, with a wide range of residents, a healthy assortment of children. Old-world charm and new-world amenities: two private gardens and a cardiovascular exercise room. It is also walking distance to both the East and West Village. To keep the property sound and attractive, two years ago the co-op board created a 10-year capital plan.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, long faces on Long Island, as a the FBI arrests two men they allege ran a Ponzi scheme at their Montauk resort containing over 100 co-op apartments. Another kind of white-collar criminal may be robbing you when you apply for a mortgage. And is it criminal to pay $80,000 for parking space at a car condominium? Plus, the co-op board of The Cambridge House sued the City to get Citi Bike racks in front of its building removed — and now the City says it's above the law and the courts have to stay out!

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. More trouble for those involved in illegal short-term rentals, with a major real-estate agent involved. Plus, advice for dealing with co-op board rejection, how to gracefully decline writing a recommendation letter, second-class citizenship at luxury condos, and co-op capers with beer heiress Daphne Guinness and Academy Award-nominee Jessica Chastain (at right). And for co-op / condo boards, we've analyses of Fletcher v. Dakota and of the easing of FHA condo rules.

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