New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine June 2020 free digital issue

HABITAT

QUEENS

With an abundance of low-lying, southern-facing roof space, the 930-unit Georgetown Mews co-op complex in Kew Gardens, Queens, has embarked on a massive solar-energy project that eventually will provide 35 percent of its energy needs. And by even the most conservative projections, it will pay off its full cost in under two years.

How did it get the funding to do this? And can you?

No matter how amazing your financing is, the last and — in the long run — the greatest of the financial attractions of a solar-power project doesn't appear in any computation of expenses; instead, it's the power the project will generate. Georgetown Mews, a sprawling, 930-unit co-op in Kew Gardens, Queens, is finally attempting to take control of that power. Its massive project will eventually provide 35 percent of the complex's energy needs and by even the most conservative projections will pay off its full cost in under two years.

The six-story, 153-apartment co-op at 87-10 51st Avenue in Elmhurst, Queens, used to be The Continental. There the co-op board had filed for bankruptcy in 2009 amid one or more lawsuits, reported the New York Daily News at the time. But now, says DNAInfo.com, the 1962-vintage, red-brick low-rise may be low-rising from the ashes as The Continental Park. Renderings and promotional copy at the developer's website say there will be a gym, a playground and a sculpture garden among the amenities — although as DNAInfo notes, getting there may not be easy. "A partial stop-work order was issued in September for scaffolding issues, according to Department of Buildings records, and there are more than two dozen open violations, with the most recent for elevator issues." Well, you know the old saying: Elmhurst wasn't built in a day.

So, enjoy our selection of the top 10 co-op / condo quotes (or groups of quotes) uttered in 2011. And feel free to add your own favorite 2011 co-op / condo quotes in our "Comments" section at the end!

Kim Velsey in The New York Observer writes, quite entertainingly, of the travails facing diplomats seeking co-op or condo housing in New York. At many places it's "Diplomats Need Not Apply," as boards worry about diplomatic immunity, security details, endless sign-offs from the State Department and others, and, of course, the dreaded scourge of cocktail parties. Not to mention: You approve one diplomat, there's a coup, now you've got a whole new neighbor to contend with. We learn that while the UK and New Zealand have been given the red carpet, poor France got turned down at River House and Qatar had to buy a townhouse. (We know ... big hardship.) Attorney Steven Wagner offers an amusing anecdote about a bad diplomat in Astoria, Queens. And you don't even want to know what diplomats from poor countries have to contend with. Two words: studio apartment.

Any board member will tell you that elevator replacement is a major capitol project, and that putting out bids, choosing a contractor, waiting on parts and then doing the actual work can take months. And any board member will tell you that standard repairs should just take a day or three.

Somewhere in the middle of all that is what WPIX-TV "Help Me Howard" reporter Howard Thompson, writing on the station's website, calls an elevator "renovation" at the Dorchester I, part of the two-building Dorchester co-op complex in Howard Beach, Queens. Despite the co-op's large and fragile senior population, that renovation of the building's sole elevator dragged on for five long months. (This followed the Dorchester II not having a working elevator for months earlier this year, when Thompson encountered a vulgar, foul-mouthed secretary and a belligerent board vice president.) If we may hazard a tip, from the Habitat archives: Dorchester board! You can expedite elevator repairs! And given shareholders like 99-year-old Lou Hendelman, a cancer-stricken retired New York firefighter, perhaps that's something to be considered.

Pamela DeLorme, the principal in Delkap Management, has learned how to juggle personalities in the 28 years her firm has been managing the Northridge Cooperatives, a six-building, 400-unit complex built in Jackson Heights, Queens, in 1948. The property — like the neighborhood, a "cultural melting pot," according to DeLorme — has transformed from a mostly Orthodox Jewish enclave to one that features a mix of cultures and age groups. The neighborhood has always been attractive to families because of its easy access to stores, supermarkets, restaurants, religious venues and schools.

 

Shore View Condominiums, 20 units in seven seaside buildings in Rockaway Beach, Queens, was hammered by superstorm Sandy. And though the complex suffered nearly $250,000 in damage to its entranceways and basements, including residential areas, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, recalls board president Janie Simmons, "said they don't help condos." That isn't quite accurate since FEMA indeed helped countless co-op and condo apartment owners find emergency shelter, and gave them money to do emergency repairs. But she is correct in that FEMA by law is not allowed to grant funds to condo and co-op boards to fix common areas.

The first signs were little things. Storefronts with wood instead of glass in their picture windows. Then the signs became more pronounced: trees upended, their roots exposed like some kind of garish sculpture; buildings with huge gashes in their façades; and a series of strange-looking poles on the beach that had, once upon a time, been supports for the boardwalk, now blown away by superstorm Sandy.

Sometimes a superintendent's office is just a superintendent's office. And other times, a superintendent's office is a storage room that doesn't belong to the condominium, except one document says it does and another document says it doesn't. This is why we have document shredders. Just kidding. But it is why we have courtrooms — which is where a Long Island City, Queens, condo board and the building's sponsor recently met to have the case of the conflicting official papers sorted out. Also, to determine who gets custody of the room's toilet, which makes it all the more a shame this isn't happening in Flushing.

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