New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine July/August 2020 free digital issue

HABITAT

152 W. 58TH STREET

Last year, a rent-controlled tenant approached the co-op board of her building with a welcome proposition: If the board would buy her out, she would leave, and they could sell the apartment for a handsome sum. "She got a big pile of money, and we will get an enormous pile of money," says Carl Tait, president of the board at 152 West 58th Street, near Central Park. When all is said and done, this 33-unit co-op will clear $600,000 in tax-free cash. The building is currently under contract with a buyer for $950,000 for the two-bedroom apartment.

Many buildings end up in possession of a vacant unit when a rental occupant moves out. With rent-controlled or rent-stabilized apartments, this often happens only when the tenant dies. However, if conditions are right, the building could negotiate with a willing occupant to leave under sunnier conditions, leaving a cooperative or a condominium association with an apartment it can then sell. But those negotiations can be tricky. Rental regulations provide strong protections to a rent-controlled or rent-stabilized tenant, who will often want a sizable severance price, especially if the apartment is in a desirable neighborhood.

When a co-op board sells a unit that it's acquired by a rental apartment's vacancy, you must wear two hats: one as the seller and the other as the discerning board carefully reviewing a potential shareholder's financial dossier. Just because a board enters into a contract with a buyer doesn't mean the board has relinquished its right to reject the shareholder.

I'm co-op board president of a a 33-unit building directly behind One57, the tower being built at 157 West 57th Street, by the developer Extell and the construction company Lend Lease. On Monday, October 29, the day of superstorm Sandy, I was working at home, so lost in what I was doing I didn't hear anything until my wife came in with a horrified expression and said, "Carl, the crane on top of that Extell building just broke."

I went downstairs and asked a policeman on the corner, "Will we be evacuated?"

He said: "Oh, you're already evacuated. Police are clearing your building right now. Don't even bother to go home." That seemed kind of strange to me, considering I just came from there. 

Ask the Experts

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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

Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise

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