New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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Jeffrey Sosnick was first shown an apartment in his Central Park West building in 1982. The property was converting from a rental to the 227 Tenants Corporation, a cooperative. "The broker," he remembers, "said, 'Prewar — like pre-World War I!" As Sosnick — the co-op board president for 30 of the 31 years he's lived there — describes, "You feel like you're going into some European apartment house because of the design elements."

That's one reason the 20-unit building is part of the "Upper West Side-Central Park West" historic district designated by New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) — and one reason why a window-replacement project ballooned from a $400,000 budget to $571,000. On the one hand, that triggered the first special assessment in the co-op's history; on the other, it may have added compensatorily to its apartments' value.

The installation of new windows at the Central Park West co-op had ballooned in cost from $400,000 to $571,000, since the building is in a landmarked district and the windows had to be historically accurate. "The shareholders were mostly sanguine" about paying for the overage, says board president Jeffrey Sosnick, and everyone was happy with the results. "However," he adds, "as a result of all these additional costs it became necessary for the first time in our history to declare a shareholder assessment," for $70,000. "We had always prided ourselves on never spending more than we had."

Was the Landmarks Preservation Commission asking too much? Did the co-op want to cut corners that would harm the heritage of New York City? And where was the architect in all this? In Part 2 of our story about one co-op's dealings with the LPC, we offer an oral history describing the aftermath.

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Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments

Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise

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