New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week: Can we talk? I mean, what kind of world is it where a comedy icon who personally takes on the work of being condo-board president has to deal with some broad who's $200,000 in arrears and throwing insults like Don Rickles in drag? Oh, please. Elsewhere, some condo boards want to act like co-op boards when it comes to admissions. And there's a twist in the Dakota Apartments discrimination case. For boards, we've news on a big battle in the New York Attorney General's fight against illegal hoteling, and watch out! There are toilets exploding in Brooklyn! Actually, it's not funny — one co-op shareholder needed 30 stitches. Still, it's kind of funny. But not really.

Joan Rivers' tragic and untimely death not only deprived the world of a comic genius but also — can we talk? — a condo board president. And she surely would have liked to have known that her and her board's long-running battle with eccentric resident Elizabeth Hazan, who owed $200,000 in arrears, has ended. The story has more twists than a European road — Hazan had signed her apartment at The Spencer over to a Belize-based corporation, a judge in November forbade her access to the place, and much more went on — and the insults got extremely personal on both sides. But the day of Rivers' death, just before she passed, the New York Daily News reported that her board and Hazan reached a settlement after three hours of negotiation before a judge. It's nice to think of Joan, out there somewhere, having the last laugh.

It was Michael Wolfe's first co-op. The 30-unit property at 1107 Fifth Avenue on East 92nd Street impressed the young manager. "I remember walking into the building. I had always lived in a private home, and I couldn't believe that apartments could be so big. There was a grand lobby, with a doorman and staff. It even had manned elevators. I thought they gave it that classy hotel, classy building feel."

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a co-op board takes away a parking space from a little old lady with Parkinson's, saying her car's insurance and registration had lapsed — they hadn't — and that the car didn't run ... so they took away the spot while the car was in the garage to, y'know, run. Doesn't sound like the board's running on all cylinders, either. Same might be said on Fifth Avenue, where a co-op board president who lost a bid for an apartment in her building allegedly decided no one else could buy it, either. Plus, Patrick Stewart makes it so with a condo buy in Brooklyn.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a condominium board sues its developer. a co-op buyer sues a seller, and a co-op shareholder sues his neighbor. Plus, a lawyer sues his clients, whom he'd represented against a co-op board. Ah, springtime in New York!  We've also a co-op board trying to evict an agoraphobic transgender smoker, but hey, that could happen anywhere....

Frieda and Howard Dropkin, shareholders at The America co-op at 300 East 85th Street, owe $13,000 in maintenance-payment arrears, the co-op board alleged in a court case decided late last month. Given the arrears and a couple of related issues, the board had moved to evict the couple. But, as the New York Law Journal reports, Judge Jack Stoller wasn't having any of it once he found the board couldn't explain how it calculated any of its shareholders' maintenance charges, let alone the Dropkins'. He also rejected the board's argument that the calculations didn't matter since the "voluntary payment doctrine" would have established the maintenance charge, noting the Dropkins had paid different amounts each month. The board's attorney told the Law Journal it was reviewing the decision to determine how to proceed.

Divorce is never not problematic. Yet while there are many bad things about it, there are good things as well — a new life, new beginnings, Having it stop a foreclosure proceeding on your condominium apartment after you haven't paid common charges for nearly three years is not, however, one of them.

Robert P.J. Booher, the board president of 230 East 71st Street, a 60-unit co-op between Second and Third Avenues in Manhattan, doesn't like surprises. "We want to pinpoint where our vulnerabilities are," he says. "The roof is 10 years old. OK — how much more time can we get out of it? What are we going to do? The pointing is good, but it's been 20 years since we last did it. When should we do it again?"

In 1980, the co-op board president of 142 East 71st Street asked Gerard J. Picaso if he was interested in talking to the seven-person board about managing the newly converted, 42-unit building. Picaso recalls that he had a "great" interview, but afterward, the president confessed to the agent that there was no way the tony East Side board would hire the young, witty manager with the bushy hair and thick mustache. They were more comfortable with the white-gloved elegance and low-key style of a larger, more established firm.

Cuba. Chile. The Upper East Side. What do they have in common? If you go by a lawsuit filed by some shareholders at 1035 Fifth Avenue, each has been the site of a coup. The New York Daily News reports that former Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia CEO Charles Koppelman and others claim there's been a "corporate coup," with the results of a May 13 co-op board election having been overturned after the building's managing agent "found" a proxy that had been set aside "by mistake." Famed interior designer Richard Mishaan, newly elected as board president, was deposed in favor of former Goldman Sachs chairman Eugene Atkinson. Judge Nancy Bannon of New York County Supreme Court, Civil Branch, has barred the co-op board from meeting pending a hearing on June 27.

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