New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine July/August 2020 free digital issue

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Aug. 29, 2013 — Monkey bars are an endangered species. So are seesaws, metal slides that turn into frying pans under the hot sun and hard asphalt that helped invent the phrase "skinned knees." In fact, old-fashioned playgrounds with all those things are passé. So what does a co-op or condo board do when it wants to create an outdoor play area for children or upgrade the one you've had since the '60s? It's not as simple as buying a swing set at Home Depot.

Or as cheap, since it's an investment in increasing your property's market value. And what with many new developments having them for just that reason, your co-op or condo might need to keep up.

UPDATED 5:23 P.M. — New York City contractors' boardwalk reconstruction near a Sandy-devastated co-op in Queens has created intolerable disruption, the co-op's attorney charges, including destruction of recently repaired private property. And the City ... well, the City responded to him within days and plans to make good on everything.

Wait, what? Something worked like it was supposed to? Here's how it happened.

For a recent hallway renovation at an Upper East Side co-op, the plan was to remove old wallpaper and replace worn carpeting. But in the process, remembers Marion Preston, former board treasurer of the 111-unit co-op, the previous board had ordered a huge supply of excess wallpaper and carpet. "They had extra of everything just in case, but no one ever used it or needed it," Preston says. "For our job, we had all-new material, so we obviously didn't need this anymore. I couldn't bear to just toss it out. It was still in its original packaging." So what to do?

Eight of the 11 main mayoral hopefuls attended a forum on co-op and condominium issues Tuesday in Queens, giving their views on property-tax disparity between co-ops / condos and single-family housing, the possibility of changing federal rules to allow FEMA grants for common-area repair and other topics before a crowd of several hundred. The two-hour event was sponsored by a co-op and condo advocacy group and a local bar association.

At 1150 Park Avenue, an 89-unit Manhattan co-op, the board decided to convert to a dual-fuel system that could run on No. 2 oil or natural gas, says Daniel Storr, the board treasurer. Storr reports that his building and others in the neighborhood had a deal with Con Edison to service the area as long as they made necessary internal changes to accommodate gas service.

Promoting staff based on how popular someone is with the residents, rather than on strictly professional criteria and experience, is an invitation to problems — and there could be no greater example than the experience of one co-op board in Freeport, Long Island, when a staffer's popularity allowed him to buy two apartments and eventually win election to the five-member board, where he and two cronies gained control of the building.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, union workers say they're getting a Bronx cheer, Christine Quinn gets a nod in Queens, and a City Council candidate gets endorsed by a board in Brooklyn. Plus, a condominium board near the U.N. sues a law firm, and if you've ever wondered if you can legally photograph or shoot video of fellow residents breaking rules, find out now.

Devicka Doobay figured she had a great shot at a $170,000 Queens co-op when she applied in 2010. Her credit score was well over 700, her income more than $66,000 and her only debt a car loan for $15,000. However, when she got turned down without even an admissions interview, she had the nagging feeling it might have had something to do with her name. "Everything was good, I had all the documents, and they wouldn't even give me a meeting," she says.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a wonderful new affordable co-op in The Bronx (at left) finds loud, trashy neighbors drinking on the street and throwing dangerous objects from several stories above — and the police don't care. Bet they would if this were 15 Central Park West, another co-op in the news. Plus, why is a Queens condo paying to keep up land the Department of Transportation is supposed to maintain? And for boards, we've the latest on the Dakota's discrimination lawsuit and on two East Village co-ops' no-restaurant policy.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a Central Park West co-op is fired up to evict a smoker, a Queens condo sets an asking-price record, and those maligned old white-brick apartment houses go high-end. Speaking of big houses, Peter Madoff's co-op is up for sale before he gets locked up in the big house. And for co-op and condo boards, we've bad news on the tax abatement bill, and the Dakota discrimination case has some bad fallout for boards. Plus: A lawyer tells us the seven biggest surprises for rookie board members.

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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

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