New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, State Senator Tony Avella tries to bring home the bacon ... or, rather, keep the bacon home, in a co-op issue involving a pet pig. Plus, for condo and co-op boards, New York City wins an illegal hoteling case, a co-op racial-bias lawsuit moves forward, and the boards of a Fifth Avenue co-op and a nearby condominium band together against a building proposed to rise between them.

In February, a 105-unit condominium near Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn saw its insurance premium spike by 30 percent to $44,000. A 148-unit condo on the Upper East Side of Manhattan watched its bill jump 10 percent, to nearly $72,000. And a doorman co-op in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, recently swallowed a 9 percent premium increase. Condos and co-ops across New York City are bracing for an expensive insurance market, as insurers raise rates for the first time in years.

No building seems immune. Even co-ops and condos that are fully insured and haven't filed claims are watching their rates jump by as much as 9 percent and their deductible limits rising. Other buildings are discovering that their carrier simply won't cover them anymore.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, they do love their cigarettes in Queens, a Long Islander may face eviction for burning the wrong kind of firewood and Petey the Pig's "parents" are trying to sell their co-op apartment and fine a more swine-friendly place. There's a Harlem co-op / condo expo April 6-7. And where the wild things aren't is in the late Maurice Sendak's co-op, now up for sale. Plus, for condo and condo and co-op boards, we've advice on mediation.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, Penn South goes south, and $190,000 went with it. Plus, New York officials want banks to release insurance money that's due superstorm Sandy victims, a co-op has constant drunken revelers in its garden, and does monthly maintenance ever decrease?  And for condo and co-op boards, what do you do with a dog that bites? What about if the owner is a little old man?

It was no surprise that 200 East End Avenue was vulnerable to superstorm Sandy: The garage had been flooded once before during a Nor'easter. But no one anticipated how much devastation the storm would wreak on this 17-story tower.

In the early hours of October 29, building superintendent Scott Falk thought the co-op would weather the storm with little damage. The property sits on the edge of Franklin Delano Roosevelt Drive and the East River just past it, so Falk and his staff evacuated the garage and secured the sloping driveway and service entrance with sandbags. The rain wasn't as heavy as forecast and by late afternoon, the streets were relatively dry.

As he drove into the city from Long Island, Robert Mellman phoned environmental companies, hoping to get one onsite quickly to pump out the contaminated water. By the Orsid Realty property manager arrived, the building's electrician was there, working with Con Ed to cut power from the grid.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a Long Island co-op struggle to finance common-area repair, not covered by FEMA, after superstorm Sandy; a condo super in Greenpoint risks blowing the place up; and rich folk got dem pied-à-terre blues. For co-op and condo boards, we've two tales of illegal hoteling — both with hilarious, albeit nefarious, behavior by the apartment owners. Plus, the latest amenity: onsite well-being programs.

For E. Cooke Rand, a co-op board member at a 48-year-old white-brick building on East 84th Street, his board's initial decision to install a gym "was made conditionally, to explore the idea — what would be entailed, what all the equipment would be. We had a subcommittee of the board, three people, who did the bulk of the work and kept reporting to us — doing all this exploration to see what it could cost and whether the space was suitable. The process wasn't getting together one night, making a decision, and turning it over. We consulted through the managing agent and directly with knowledgeable architects."

It is not easy preparing for 40 feet of floodwater. And in the early hours of October 29, the 17-story co-op at 200 East End Avenue in Manhattan suffered just such a surge at the hands of Superstorm Sandy. Since then, the building's staff, co-op board and managing agent know what they would do differently next time in terms of preparation — and what they would do the same. "You can't over-prepare and you can't over-communicate," says Neil Davidowitz, president of the building's management company, Orsid Realty. Here's what this co-op's board and professionals recommend ... from harsh firsthand experience.

An onsite gym has become standard in virtually all new developments, and many older buildings are retrofitting to include them. In two past articles we've looked at how real estate professionals value them, and at the standard steps co-op and condo boards take to make the decision and to make it a reality. Now we look at the final piece: security and insurance.

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