New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

HABITAT

WEST VILLAGE

The 75-unit condominium at 60 West 13th Street, in the heart of the West Village, was built in 1967 and is now populated by a cross-section of people, ranging from young professionals, many in finance, to older couples, some of whom bought units 40 years ago.
 
One of the first residents was Carol Butler, a psychoanalyst who has been active on the board for many years. Possibly because she once dreamed of being an architect, this Bronx native has overseen a great deal of capital work: brick replacement, pointing, waterproofing, painting, parapet replacement, window sill replacement, and caulking.

Façade Facelift

Written by Tom Soter on December 02, 2015

West Village

It was in late 2013 and early 2014 that Julie Rosen, an architect at Kamen Tall Architects, noticed that there was something wrong at the 50-unit co-op at 340/344 West 11th Street and 711/715 Washington Street. Erected in 1852, the five West Village buildings needed some façade repairs – and soon.

 

Rosen noticed that there were areas of the facade were in poor shape and some contained unsafe conditions. At that time, as a protection for the the general public and the residents, the co-op installed a shed to cover the pedestrian areas in front of the buildings. "We had to do a façade restoration project on all of the buildings to both preserve them and to alleviate any unsafe conditions that existed," notes manager Mark Levine, executive vice president at Excel Bradshaw Management Group. Levine and his management team began working with Rosen, the architect, and with Katherine Malishewsky, the project lead, to coordinate with the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). The LPC's approval is needed on all façade changes, since the structure is in a landmarked district.

The former site of St. Vincent's Hospital in the West Village has its first two official sales, according to The New York Times. Each unit sold for more than $15 million – with floor plans that would make any house-hunter drool. "Each of these similarly sized sponsor apartments — featuring private 83-square-foot loggias off an eat-in kitchen and family room, and direct elevator access — occupies an entire floor at 145 West 11th Street," proclaims the Times; the more expensive unit also has "a library with a fireplace, a home office, a large utility room with a washer/dryer and a centrally located gallery." With a floor plan of over 4,500 square feet, maybe a Roomba or two would make a nice housewarming gift.

Not every new condo construction looks like a Jenga tower. Just check out the Landmarks Preservation Commission-approved condo building rising at 130 Seventh Avenue South in the West Village. YIMBY reports that that the 7-story structure now boasts a teaser site, a new address (175 West 10th Street), and a new rendering. Moving away from the cold glass and steel high-rise model, this building has a traditional red-brick façade with a modern twist: it's "broken up with large, irregularly spaced sets of windows." The ground floor will be retail space, "topped by four stories of floor-through condos, and then a penthouse duplex for the sixth and seventh floors. Each apartment will measure about 2,500 square feet." Very nice. If you're wondering about the sticker price, it's too soon to tell, but sales are expected to launch early next year, and work is expected to finish in fall 2016.

With all the new construction happening everywhere you turn in Manhattan — and co-op and condo prices dipping slightly again in August — you have to get a little creative when it comes to grabbing the attention of potential buyers. William Reue Architecture wanted to inject a sense of human scale into the open rooms of a newly constructed $12 million West Village townhouse at 372 West 11th Street. To that end, the architectural firm collaborated with Norbert Waysberg, the building's developer, to commission a dance that would be performed inside the building. The final result is the four-minute video "Elevation," an art-performance piece that seeks to explain the building in a kinetic way, much more descriptive, real, and alive than any photographs ever could. Is this the beginning of a new trend in real-estate sales? The tone in this one certainly speaks to the luxury market set. It may still be, however, something for co-op and condo boards to keep an eye on when they have their own spaces to sell.

Just days after a piece of Plexiglas fell onto two parked cars from luxury megatower One57, a sheet of plywood ripped away by high winds from a condo construction site fatally struck a woman in a parking garage at 175 West 12th Street. Police officers told the Daily News that "Tram-Thuy Nguyen, 37, died Tuesday at Bellevue Hospital shortly after the freak 5:50 p.m. tragedy near the former site of St. Vincent’s Hospital in the West Village." She was hit by a 4-foot-by-8-foot sheet of plywood, which was torn from a construction site security fence on West 12th Street, police said — where the shuttered St. Vincent's Hospital is undergoing conversion into a high-end condo development called The Greenwich Lane. According to the National Weather Service, winds in Manhattan at nearly 6 p.m. topped out with gusts of 38 mph. The Daily News reports that "the W. 12th St. building was the subject of numerous complaints during construction in 2013 — but no complaints were made in 2014."

Celebrity and clout didn't help fashion designer Cynthia Rowley any after renovations to her townhouse on 30 Perry Street ticked off condo owners in the building next door. And now she's getting sued. The lawsuit alleges that Rowley didn't check with the condo board of the historic 28 Perry Street building "before installing a set of three plumbing and ventilation pipes on the outside walls of their building," reports DNAinfo, nor did she get the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission's (LPC) okay. Uh-oh. Neither the board's lawyer nor Rowley returned DNAinfo's requests for comments; however, a spokesperson for the LPC confirmed that the commission issued permits for the work being done in Rowley's building, adding that it has not received any complaints. Will Rowley be able to complete her renovation project, which involves adding a penthouse and replacing pipes that connect to the boiler, fireplace, and cooking fixtures? Will the 28 Perry Street condo owners succeed in having Rowley remove the pipes, obstructions, and debris, and pay damages and legal fees? We'll be watching this latest battle unfold.

Photo by Nicholas Strini for Property Shark.

It seems to be theme week this time around in Ronda Kaysen's "Ask Real Estate" column in The New York Times, with three items involving renters in a co-op or a condo. First up, a Murray Hill co-op board and its super won't provide proof that a rule no one told a departing renter about really exists. Next, a SoHo loft owner — which is a lot like a condo owner; just go with it — with a tenant needs to know just how far his repair obligations go in terms of precisely matching the paint in the loft below after a leak. Not sure why both the question and the answer refer to a "subtenant" rather than just a tenant, which is what the New York City Loft Board calls them, but whatever. Finally, a condominium sponsor and a condo board in the West Village appear to be at odds — stranding rent-stabilized tenants who need repairs done.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents — but especially boards this week. A new condo in Brooklyn enhances its appeal and market value by supporting an adjacent park. A notorious Airbnb hotelier takes a fall. Learn what amenities add a lot to the cost of maintaining a co-op or condo building, and which don't. And find who NYSERDA calls New York City's top four engineering firms in helping buildings achieve energy-efficiency. Plus: Condo fire on Staten Island, tips for acing your co-op board admission interview, and the seller of a co-op in the "Ghostbusters building" (above) doesn't get slimed on the price.

What striking workers and even some residents of The Printing House call bullying by its developer and condo-board head, Myles Horn, continues in one of the more blatant examples of the haves vs. the have nots. Apartments there sell for as high as $6 million, with one four-bedroom unit now on sale for $14 million. So how does this square with non-union concierges and cleaners making as little as $12 an hour, asks The Amsterdam News  — which notes that longtime concierge Arturo Vergara has to buy his own health insurance for $800 a month.

Part of the problem, the paper reports, is that to run the staff, Horn hired  Planned Companies, a New Jersey firm with "a history of labor violations and documented ties to organized crime." And since most New York City luxury buildings pay staff a decent wage, the issue appears to be, for Horn, a matter of won't, not can't. "They want to make a name for themselves as innovative developers," SEIU Local 32BJ President Hector Figueroa said in a statement to the paper, "but instead, they are becoming symbols of the irresponsible 1 percent.”

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