New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

HABITAT

HAMILTON HEIGHTS

There are inventive ways to deal with a crumbling facade and a potentially disastrous land-lease.

The Facade That Could Have Come Tumbling Down

Written by Bill Morris on September 28, 2016

Hamilton Heights

A creative solution averts disaster at a Hamilton Heights co-op.

New cachet for the neighborhoods around Hamilton Grange.

Some would-be apartment owners are missing the good old days of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. According to DNAinfo, a city-run affordable housing program that can transform low-income renters to apartment owners is going nowhere under Mayor Bill de Blasio. The Tenant Interim Lease (TIL) program, which was "designed to renovate city-owned buildings and train tenants to manage finances," and then offer residents the opportunity to buy their apartment, has seen a steep drop-off in successful conversions.

 

"In Manhattan, seven out of nearly 130 buildings in the ownership program have actually been become co-ops since 2012 … Many buildings have been in the program for decades, waiting for renovations that never come," reports DNAinfo. The biggest surge of activity came in 2011, when 18 buildings were converted. Since then, less than five buildings each year have converted, with 2013 hitting rock bottom with zero buildings converted. Tenants are frustrated, saying that "this program was geared to fail and they are succeeding." Given Mayor de Blasio's supposed efforts to increase affordable housing in New York, can you blame them?

It takes a significant amount of financial mismanagement to land a co-op in foreclosure. Although it's a rare, and very sad, occurrence, it looks like 200 of the 329 co-ops in Community Boards 9, 10, and 11 will need to turn things around to avoid heading toward the dreaded F word. DNAinfo reports that those co-ops owe the city more than $21.2 million in unpaid taxes and water and sewage bills, citing records from the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), and of the 200, 49 of them owe more than $100,000. Most of the mismanaged co-ops in Hamilton Heights, Harlem, and East Harlem started out as "foreclosed properties owned by absentee landlords that the city sold to tenants to give low-income New Yorkers homeownership," according to DNAinfo. One co-op, located at 501 West 143rd Street, has a $3 million debt and at risk of being foreclosed, according to HPD. An HPD spokesperson said in statement that the co-op has been identified both by it and the Department of Finance as a candidate for the Third Party Transfer program. "If placed on the program," writes DNAinfo, "every member of the co-op would lose ownership of their apartment and be forced to become renters. For Ronaldo Kiel, who has spent more than $200,000 to buy and renovate his apartment, [it] would mean a complete loss on his investment."

 

Photo by Nicholas Strini for Property Shark

Digital Accounting Tools for Boards and Managers: Dropbox

Written by Sheryl Nance-Nash on September 19, 2013

Hamilton Heights, Manhattan

Deirdre McIntosh-Brown, board president of a 133-unit Hamilton Heights co-op, was fed up. Every month, her management firm, HSC, sent her a dozen or more e-mails that she felt were unnecessary. The property manager would try to send the monthly 300-page management report and invariably — because the file was too big — he would break it up into 12 or more segments. "Some might end up in spam, or you couldn't see the documents clearly," she says.

Looking around the Hamilton Heights/Sugar Hill District in Upper Manhattan, Albelisa Kemp, a project manager at Rand Architecture and Engineering, admits to a little disappointment. “It’s a beautiful district; there’s some really amazing stonework. But the level of decay is sad. The landlords and residents just don’t care.”

An exception to that trend is 470 Convent Avenue. The six-story Beaux Arts brick building, designed by architects Gross & Kleinberger and constructed in 1911, is undergoing a vast exterior, roof, and window renovation. “The building is an icon,” says board president Michael Davu. “We have eight commercial stores on what is not a commercial avenue. People come to the neighborhood from everywhere, so we get a lot of foot traffic.”

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