New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, uncertainty still abounds after the Department of Finance makes a claim neither New York City nor New York State will confirm about the possible extension of a crucial property-tax abatement. Plus, a court forbids a Mitchell-Lama co-op to privatize, Madonna is selling one of her apartments and a Financial District condo board gets sued for its actions, or lack thereof, in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. Lots of news for boards in particular this week, as one co-op board sues the developer of One57 — the condo with the crane — and other boards face lawsuits against them because of superstorm Sandy. And it's board member vs. board member at The Bronx's Brady Court. Plus, a third of all homebuyers don't know what an "annual percentage rate" is. And while we'd bet that Ben Stiller (at left) does, he and his actress wife Christine Taylor still lost a million selling their co-op duplex on the Upper West Side.

Having Trouble Passing a Referendum? Simplify, Simplify.

Written by Gilbert Kunken, President, 66 W. 94th Street and 689 Columbus Avenue on May 09, 2013

66 W. 94th Street, 689 Columbus Avenue, Upper West Side

The board of our 233-unit Manhattan co-op wanted to revise the bylaws in our proprietary lease. They had remained unchanged from the very beginning of our cooperative, 45 years ago. We also wanted to change the size of the co-op board, which was set at 13 members. That size can make it hard to operate; when you foster an environment that gives everybody the opportunity to speak, the more people you have at the table, the longer everything takes.

As well, we had trouble just getting enough candidates to fill the board, and felt its size was out of proportion to a building our size. We also wanted to put in board eligibility requirements; for instance, there were no requirements whatsoever about whether or not board members had to be in good financial standing. We felt very strongly that board members should not owe any money.

We took those ideas and many other changes before the shareholders for two years in a row, and we were coming up 15 or 20 votes short each year. Why?

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, sponsor abuses stir up the latest call for a co-op ombudsman in the Attorney General's office, a Queens condo board changes apartments' locks to keep owners out during Sandy repair — commandeering one home for a construction office — and West Village co-opers sue to keep away bicycle clutter. For condo and co-op boards, we've the latest hoteling lawsuit. Plus: Condopedia! Which we're sure is as accurate as regular Wikipedia.

The 250-unit Normandy, located at 140 Riverside Drive on Manhattan's Upper West Side, recently phased out its old-style bulbs. For co-op board president Bennett Lincoff, convincing the other board members it was a good idea was easier than screwing in a light bulb. The fact is, according to energy experts and building managers, if you still have incandescent lighting in your building's public spaces, rather than compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs), you're probably wasting money.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, police name an accomplice in the Penn South co-op embezzlement, and one Financial District condo board gets sued over cell-phone antennas while another hopes Denny's won't grand-slam into their luxury building. In other lawsuit news, a Murray Hill co-op board misses a deadline in a discrimination lawsuit. Note to self: Don't hire that lawyer. Plus, see how all the changes in the co-op / condo tax abatement play out with LLCs and trusts — trust us, you want to know. And Bruce Willis buys hard on the Upper West Side.

The Apple Store, located on Broadway and 68th Street, is a glass box: beautiful, elegant, and refined – less a computer shop, more an experience. To the north of it sits the Bel Canto, a 76-unit condominium that towers over the store. Neighbors, sure, but when representatives from the two buildings began talking, they didn’t swap stories about Macs or PCs. The topic was real estate, specifically Local Law 11. The issue seemed simple: the 27-story Bel Canto needed to repair its façade, and it needed permission – a so-called “access agreement” – to work over the roof of the five-story Apple Store.

How hard is that?

Very, it turns out. “It took us three years of negotiations to come to an agreement,” recalls Andrea Bunis, the president of Andrea Bunis Management. And after three years of talk, “they only gave us about 90 days to do the work.”

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, Congress and the president save the mortgage-interest deduction, buildings in the flood zone, including co-ops and condos, may be required to buy flood insurance, Spielbergian producers sell their co-op and Manhattan apartment prices about to go up.

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