New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

HABITAT

UPPER EAST SIDE

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.

Space is the final frontier. And in New York, where every square foot is valuable, finding extra space that costs your co-op or condo little and earns income in the process is a worthy goal. An Upper East Side co-op, for instance, successfully added a second floor to an existing penthouse level. A Soho co-op added a penthouse level that turned the top-floor unit into a duplex. In both instances shareholders gained space and shares, and the co-ops now collect more in maintenance.

Far beyond being a trend, gyms, also known as health clubs and fitness centers, are becoming as ubiquitous as lobbies and elevators. You'd be hard put to find a single new-construction condominium that doesn't have one, and many older cooperatives and condos, anxious to stay up-to-date, are weighing the option so as not to look like dumbbells. "If you don’t have one, you’re at a competitive disadvantage," says Deanna Kory, a senior vice president and associate broker at Corcoran Group Real Estate. "There are people who look at two similarly sized apartments who will be swayed to the building with the gym — often."

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, an Upper East Side co-op owner with pot-smoking friends wishes the board would just chill out, dude. Plus, a dearth of condos makes it harder to buy the one you want, the mighty Thor Equites vanquishes a condo board, and no-FEMA apartments.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, politicians continue to promise tax abatement. Still haven't passed it yet, though. Plus, an upscale Brooklyn condo forbids smoking in apartments, gardening space is the newest amenity and fans make pilgrimage to The Odd Couple's co-op apartment building in the wake of Jack Klugman's death. Your co-op apartment building should be so revered, bubala.

We represent a condominium on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. One of its units was unoccupied, with no common charges paid for more than a year and a mortgage that was for more than its market value. 

The first mortgagee — the lender — has a first lien on the unit ahead of the condominium (unlike with co-ops, and something the condo community should strongly lobby to repeal). So, if we were to foreclose the condominium lien for the outstanding common charges, the result would be that after protracted and expensive legal proceedings the lender would receive all of the foreclosure proceeds. That would leave no reimbursement for the condominium of either its arrears or its legal fees.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week's riddle: In a no-dog building is a pet pig livestock? Plus, the federal Interstate Land Sales Full-Disclosure Act (ILSA) takes a homeowner-protection hit, we tell you where can you buy a co-op apartment for just $250 to $1,800, and The Rushmore condominium swears it meant to be finished by 2009 and that 2008 promise? Just a typo! And for co-op and condo boards, we have news about collecting monthly charges in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.

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