New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



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.

The fallout continues from the September 2012 rape at The Alfred Condominium, where a 16-year-old pizza deliverer spent 22 minutes wandering hallways and attacking Kia Graves before leaving the building unimpeded.

An attorney for Graves — who is suing the condominium as well as Halstead Management, doorman Luis Rodriguez, rapist Cesar Lucas, who was convicted last month, and his employer, New York Sal’s Pizzatold the New York Daily News that Rodriguez heated and ate dinner and was busy reading at the front desk without noticing, apparently, how long it was taking the pizza boy to return. The attorney added that Graves and her mother called the doorman after the assault, but that Rodriguez let Lucas go after speaking with him briefly — and then went back to his food. Rodriguez's attorney countered that his client's description helped police nab Lucas quickly, and is representing the doorman in an age-discrimination claim related to his firing.

How much is your cleaning bill? It's probably not $100,000. Yet that's the final figure after the condo board of The Alfred, a 219-unit building 161 W. 61st Street in Manhattan, added fines, unpaid common charges and interest after billing a hoarding couple for cleaning their dangerously unsanitary apartment — and getting a defiant response. And while this all began a full four years ago, the case of the condo cleaning shows that with patience a board can obtain the court decision it needs to be rid of an objectively objectionable resident.

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....

So let's check in and see what co-ops and condos the one percent are buying and selling. According to, the New York Knicks' new president, Phil Jackson, just spent $4.85 million to buy a posh place at the Osborne Apartments at 205 West 57th Street, where the likes of Leonard Bernstein, Lynn Redgrave, Bobby Short and many other notables have lived. In fact, Jackson's got 3B, directly under the apartment where Bernstein, Short and actor Larry Storch had lived at various times. The 1883 landmarked building went co-op in 1961. At the equally storied 15 Central Park West, Sara Blakely, founder of the Spanx undergarment empire, and her husband just sold their condo apartment for $30 million, after having bought it for $12.11 million in 2008, says the New York Daily News. So you gotta wonder: Where do you go when 15 Central Park isn't good enough?

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, it's co-op shareholders vs. rental tenants at Chelsea's London Terrace over access to a pool. We've also news of a new, retroactive property-tax abatement; the Brighton Beach bathrooms get put on hold; and as Stevie Wonder sang, we're very superstitious, writing's on the wall — just not the wall of the 13th floor. Plus, for boards, co-op taxes are up, and Concourse Village workers are up in arms.

The outcry over developer Extell's greenlight to build a separate entrance for mandated affordable apartments at 40 Riverside Blvd. has reached as high as Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. "The two-door system is an affront to New Yorkers' belief in fairness and diversity in our city we all live together," said Brewer in the New York Daily News. The Mayor agrees, saying he intends to ban so-called "poor doors" that segregate teachers, nurses, police officers, social workers and others of moderate means from bankers and lawyers — though unfortunately, not until an overall inclusionary-housing law is drafted about a year from now.

Extell's CEO, Gary Barnett, tells the paper he can't intersperse affordable and market-rate apartment and is forced economically to bunch them together. Funny — every other developer of such mixed-income housing seems to be able to do it just fine.

Politicians sounded a hue and cry when they learned developers wanted to install separate entrances — "poor doors" — for residents living in the affordable-housing part of new luxury buildings. But now one developer is getting his way regardless. The New York Post reports that the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) has approved Extell's plan for such a separate-but-equal entrance at the 33-story condominium at 40 Riverside Blvd. that the company is building on the Upper West Side.

Anything about this reek of 1950s segregation, with income instead of race? Well, as David Von Spreckelsen, senior vice president at Toll Brothers, told The Real Deal last year, “I think it’s unfair to expect very high-income homeowners who paid a fortune to live in their building to have to be in the same boat as low-income renters...." Yes, because all those nurses, teachers, police officers, writers and small-business owners are all scum of the Earth, unfit to use the same lobby as lawyers, bankers and, evidently, real-estate company senior vice presidents.

Children being turned away from playrooms, seniors denied use of the gym and developer Extell's infamous "poor door" at 40 Riverside Boulevard: Such refusal of amenities to rent-stabilized and subsidized residents in some high-end co-ops, condos and rental buildings are prompting legislators to seek laws preventing such practices. Ronda Kaysen's eye-opening article in The New York Times reports on several cases, which critics say divides communities and turns average working people, from teachers to entertainers to retirees, into pariahs in their own homes. What do advocates say? According to the head of one development company it's because such people may — may — bring down property values. How exactly a police officer, nurse, social worker or graphic designer brings down property values, nobody is saying.

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