New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



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.

Geraldine Schaedler, who says she "likes to be of service," has been sitting on the seven-person board of Country Neck Estates, in the Little Neck section of Queens since, 1991, the last four years as president. "People do need a purpose in life," says Schaedler, who is retired, "and this does keep me active. It keeps me in touch with a lot of people here."


The sprawling, 60-acre Georgetown Mews co-op in Kew Gardens, Queens, spans a full four-block lot and has six bus stops and 930 garden apartments. Because of its ample roof space, the co-op may soon be able to install a 1,026kW solar-power system spread out over 32 separate buildings. The system will produce more than 35 percent of all the electricity consumed by this middle-class community. The price tag: $3.5 million. However, a load of incentives and a credit from Con Edison will shave the price down to a modest $458,000.

Lobby redesign is a nightmare. Ask any board or managing agent and the story is usually the same: Redoing your lobby is like juggling dynamite. Where aesthetics are involved, you can rarely please everyone and the whole project can explode in your face.

So Maddy Hacken must be a brave woman. Knowing the dangers of redesign, the board president at The Catalina and The Plymouth, a 120-unit twin co-op in Bayside, Queens, not only initiated a redesign, she actually served on the beautification committee. She might as well have put a target on her back.

On a building at the corner of 63rd Drive and 108th Street in Forest Hills, Queens, the co-op board installed a plaque to commemorate the late Soviet émigré writer Sergei Dovlatov, who lived there from 1979 until his death in 1990. And now, reports the Russian art-and-culture website, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has named the nearby intersection Sergei Dovlatov Way — making it, reportedly, the first New York City street named after a Russian writer. Dovlatov fans had spearheaded a petition drive, and getting the co-op board on their side inspired them, they say, "to think bigger." Which just goes to show, you never know how much impact a co-op board vote may have.

It all started with a noise complaint. And then another. And then another.

"We'd had issues in the past with people putting treadmills and other workout equipment in their own apartments," says Fred Warshaw, co-op board treasurer of the Bay Country Owners apartment complex at 23-25 and 23-35 Bell Boulevard in Bayside, Queens. "So this sometimes caused problems with the people below." Similar complaints were heard at its sister cooperative, Bell Owners, which has two buildings at 23-45 and 23-55 Bell Boulevard. 

1... 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 ... 26

Ask the Experts

learn more

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

Source Guide

see the guide

Looking for a vendor?