New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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It seemed straightforward enough: The co-op board of 26 East 38th Street in Manhattan wanted to take possession of an apartment being sublet without permission. But the shareholder was in jail for running a tax-fraud scheme from home. And the subtenant, a gay-nightlife fixture and Fox News hairstylist, was passing himself off as the shareholder's lawyer. Whether the board was successful or not, one thing's for sure: This wasn't your usual repossession case.

In the ever-amusing annals of things co-op and condo boards shouldn't do, one of them is breaking into an apartment during a legal dispute. This wouldn't seem to be a point of which boards, or people in general, need reminding. But at the Park South co-op, at 200 Central Park South in Manhattan, that's just what the board did during an ongoing lawsuit — and even though the shareholder was in the building at the time.

The human body is a beautiful thing ... except for that guy on the nude beach over there, or that lady with the thing, or whoever that is staring at me out of my mirror. Oh, wait.... Anyway, the point is that we should get to pick and choose when or where we're looking at naked people. And according to the New York Daily News, the condo board of the Ritz Tower, at 465 Park Avenue, doesn't want its residents forced to gaze upon three floors plus rooftop hot tubs belonging to a “nudity friendly” spa next door. In fact, the board is suing the Spa Castle being built in The Galleria Condominium not only for this "public nuisance" but also for building up the roof in a way that blocks some apartments' views and violates a 1974 agreement with The Galleria's former owners. Yet Spa Castle, in response to a cease-and-desist letter, “actually accelerated the work being performed," the suit alleges. Only in Nude York, kids, only in Nude York.

What's with ground leases so much in the news lately? In our second item about them in a week, a consortium is paying $285 million for the land beneath Carnegie House, the 324-unit co-op at 100 West 57th Street. Since ground-lease rents are typically 6 percent of current market value, reports The Real Deal, rising New York real estate prices means the current $4.4 million rent the cooperative pays annually would be $27 million if the rent were to be reset today — so what's it going to be in 10 years, when the rent is scheduled to be reset? Which brings to mind a variation on the old joke: How do you get to Carnegie House? By having enough money to make ground-lease payments the size of Montana.

So let's check in and see what co-ops and condos the one percent are buying and selling. According to, the New York Knicks' new president, Phil Jackson, just spent $4.85 million to buy a posh place at the Osborne Apartments at 205 West 57th Street, where the likes of Leonard Bernstein, Lynn Redgrave, Bobby Short and many other notables have lived. In fact, Jackson's got 3B, directly under the apartment where Bernstein, Short and actor Larry Storch had lived at various times. The 1883 landmarked building went co-op in 1961. At the equally storied 15 Central Park West, Sara Blakely, founder of the Spanx undergarment empire, and her husband just sold their condo apartment for $30 million, after having bought it for $12.11 million in 2008, says the New York Daily News. So you gotta wonder: Where do you go when 15 Central Park isn't good enough?

The Carnegie House, at 100 West 57th Street, is a fairly traditional co-op. Complicated in 1962, the grey-brick beauty was named after nothing less than Carnegie Hall. Yet even such an old-school cooperative wants to keep up with the times, and if it can lower its electricity bills by 15 percent, so much the better. Thus, the more than 300-unit, 21-story building did a top-to-bottom overhaul of its energy systems — a $788,000 project that will recoup its cost in six years, thanks to $197,000 in incentives from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), a loan at about half the market rate and the aforesaid electric-bill savings. Amy Zimmer of covers the Carnegie and other buildings, and offers five energy-savings tips.

Are you having a dispute with a staff member over a thorny issue, such as a denied request for overtime, which is seen as a vendetta? Are you involved in a dismissal for cause that the dismissed party believes involves discrimination? And are you finding that such situations have led to drawn-out lawsuits?

Certainly many managers are. "We fired someone and they sued," says Paul Brensilber, president of the Manhattan-based management firm Jordan Cooper & Associates. "What with the trial and appeals, we spent a fortune fighting it."

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.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, is Howard Beach, Queens, co-op board vice president Ellen Di Stefano Buonpastore one of the most foulmouthed in New York City? We can't say, but Howard Thompson of WPIX's "Help Me Howard" segment has a report about her, stranded seniors and an elevator repair that will astonish you. Plus, what happened to the super at The Plaza's condominiums? What's the latest in the ongoing saga of the Brighton Beach boardwalk bathrooms? Did you know boards can help resolve disputes through free mediation? And where is Mad Men man Jon Hamm hanging his hat?

Updated Feb. 17, 2014 — The Sheffield 57, a nearly 600-unit condominium at 322 West 57th Street in Manhattan, has sued its managing agent, an engineering firm and others following the accidental discharge of thousands of gallons of heating oil after what the condo board called "a series of missteps that created a 'perfect storm'" causing $3 million in damages, cleanup costs and other expenses.

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