New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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Nowadays everyone is going on and on about One57 and all the new shiny condos cropping up on Billionaires' Row and beyond, but back in 2008 — a rough year for many people — 823 Park Avenue was enjoying its moment in the sun. According the New York Daily News, the still-swanky building "initially drew waves of high-profile finance types and even former New York Rangers star Brendan Shanahan, commanded top dollar during the last real estate boom, with the penthouse selling for a whopping $30.5 million in 2008." Those were the days. But it looks like the honeymoon's been over for some time. The Park Avenue building, which "was once the cream of the crop … has recently fallen out of favor with buyers." The reason? Mold. And now the very wealthy residents of the luxury condo building are suing the building's developer, Elliot Joseph's Property Markets Group, which converted the building from rentals in 2005. There's the usual he said/she said. But the bottom line is that even the mega-rich aren't immune from a little grief in the city, and that while the main thing in the real estate game is location, location, location, it suddenly means nothing when it means dealing with an issue like gross mold.

Looks like a few residents of 45 East 66th Street had a rotten weekend, including one of its more famous ones: Rudolph W. Giuliani. Despite his objections, even the former New York City mayor couldn't stop the Landmarks Preservation Commission from greenlighting an application to construct a new penthouse on top of the existing 11th-floor penthouse at the tony building with the Gothic terracotta façade, reports Curbed. Also against the proposal are Christabel Gough of the Society for the Architecture of the City and Community Board 8. But it looks like the commission was satisfied with the plans it reviewed, which according to Curbed, would match in color and barely be "visible from most vantage points on the street." So it looks like soon Giuliani will next be complaining about construction work at the landmarked building.

For such a relatively rare real-estate instrument, ground leases have been in the news a fair bit lately. And now the shareholders of Trump Plaza, at 167 East 61st Street in Manhattan, are getting news they might prefer to live without. As Bloomberg Businessweek reports, the family that owns the land beneath the 31-year-old luxury co-op wants to sell it — and the $185 million that the co-op board offered could hit some residents with an assessment of more than $1 million each. “People are calling me to stop this from happening,” said attorney Adam Leitman Bailey, principal of his namesake firm, who has been contacted by some owners wanting to keep the sale, and the assessment, from happening. But equally concerning is how much the ground-lease rent would go up another, outside buyer. In that scenario, the board projects, a monthly maintenance fee of $2,100 would increase to $9,800 when the lease resets in 20124.

A doorman who helped save the life of an elderly tenant trapped in her apartment for two days with a broken hip. A porter who collapsed on smoke-filled stairs after having helped get residents out of their apartments during a fire. An engineer and former New York City Department of Buildings inspector who became the super for a six-building, 1,700-apartment complex. They and 18 other city residential and office workers each took home a prize as the best in their categories in the 2014 Building Service Workers Awards.

The St. Tropez Condominium at 340 East 64th Street in Manhattan appears to be a nice place to live. The historic 34-story building — famous in real-estate circles as the first condominium in New York City and probably New York State, completed a year after passage of the state's Condominium Act of 1964 — sits in the tony Lenox Hill neighborhood of the Upper East Side, and boasts a pool, a gym, a garage, a roof deck and a children's playroom among its amenities. According to one survey, its 301 apartments sell for an average of nearly $2 million each.

So why would its condo association hold a homeowners meeting in a vacant commercial space with uneven floors rather than in a nice, safe community room or somewhere similar? Because it just seems that if the board members had only asked themselves that question they could have avoided all the unpleasantness that followed.

Sept. 21, 2009 — We don't usually write laundry-industry trade stories, but we're invoking the kids-with-cancer exception. That's the one that says that if a company with some connection to your usual beat does something to help kids with cancer, you write about it.

The company in this case is the Hercules Corp. of Hicksville, N.Y., a longtime laundry-room service provider for co-ops, condos and others. Founded 50 years ago this year, Hercules last week donated 12 new industrial-strength front-load washers and nine similarly commercial-grade dryers to the New York City Ronald McDonald House, a major pediatric oncology facility and a provider of low-cost accommodations to the families of gravely ill children being treated in the many nearby hospitals.

It's not likely your co-op or condo neighbor is suffering from Ebola fever. Nope. Highly unlikely. Statistically almost impossible. And yet EMS workers who have to know about this kind of thing still got suited up in full hazmat attire when responding to two people in respiratory and cardiac distress at a Park Avenue condominium near East 61st Street on Thursday, writes the New York Daily News. And while neither was listed as "fever/travel patients," the FDNY's code for people suffering from Ebola-like symptoms, the paper said, there was no word as of this writing whether Ebola had been confirmed or ruled out. And what with Crain's New York Business reporting that the Harlem-based African Services Committee considers it essential to gain the cooperation of New York's West African community in order to contain Ebola's spread here, we'd certainly advise board members to read up on Ebola fact vs. myth.

What does a cooperative need to prove when it sues a shareholder in landlord/tenant court for non-payment? These cases go to trial so rarely that people may not look at the proof the co-op must proffer.

But in 300 East 85th Housing Corp. v. Dropkin, the court considered the co-op's proofs and rendered a decision that is worth examining for several reasons.

Just when you think you've heard every claim a New York City shareholder can make against a co-op board, along comes a shareholder who makes an allegation so out of left field, it's not even from the Yankees' or the Mets' left field but from the left field of, I dunno, Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles. 

The claim? That a co-op employee owed him a fiduciary duty to take his side in a dispute ... because they were sleeping together.

At the co-op 1107 Fifth Avenue, an apartment that was once the city's largest has been sold to hedge-fund honcho Mark Kingdon, founder of Kingdon Capital Management, for $30.9 million, reports the New York Daily News. And this marks the end of a circuitous journey for the 10-room penthouse with a wraparound terrace, which Peruvian billionaire Carlos Rodriguez Pastor had previously wanted to buy. So did the co-op board's president, Maureen Klinsky. She bid $21 million, Pastor bid $27.5 million, and the board naturally accepted Pastor's higher offer. Which then begs the question of who was behind the board suddenly deciding it was going to build a shared roof deck for all the shareholders — accessible only by the penthouse terrace? And then shifting gears and deciding it was going to do repairs that would limit an owner's access to the terrace? Pastor sued and withdrew his bid — though Klinksy still didn't get to guy it. As has written of all this: "Co-ops: They're just like high school except nobody graduates unless they die."

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