New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



SmartCompost pilot program takes off in Queens and downtown Manhattan.

State continues push to replace fossil fuels with electrification.

A board took baby steps – and then went for the big fix.

From asbestos to foreclosure, the Acropolis Gardens has seen it all.

Sometimes you need to get creative when dealing with a noisy neighbor.

The Death of Submetering

Written by Paula Chin on December 27, 2016


Change in state’s energy strategy could doom a big money-saver for co-ops and condos.


The demise of the 421-a tax abatement has claimed its first victim. The $1.5 billion Hallets Point project in Astoria, Queens – an ambitious project that was to create 2,000 apartments (483 of them affordable), a supermarket, school and riverfront esplanade – has been put on hold by the Durst Organization, which cites the recent expiration of the tax abatement.

“Without a new 421-a or a replacement program, we can’t continue with the project,” Durst spokesman Jordan Barowitz tells DNAinfo. “Without the abatement, the economics of the project collapse and we couldn’t get a construction loan.”

The first building in the multi-phase, seven-year project started construction before the tax abatement expired, so that component – the supermarket and 400 apartments, 80 of them affordable – will move forward. The rest of the project is in limbo.

The 421-a tax abatement was instituted in the 1970s to spur affordable residential development, but it was derided by critics who called it a giveaway for developers. The abatement expired on Jan. 15 – the day after ground was broken at Hallets Point – when developers and unions were unable to hash out an agreement on a prevailing wage for construction workers.

Remember these guys? It looks like four buildings at the Acropolis Gardens co-op development in Astoria are still caught between Con Edison and a hard place. Residents there have not had cooking gas or hot water since April, when Con Edison cut service for allegedly unauthorized, improper hookups. And it looks like they'll have to wait at least three more weeks before Con Edison restores service, reports DNAinfo. The buildings' management company, Metropolitan Pacific Properties, "claimed at the time that their work was permitted and that the shutdown was a mistake." DNAinfo adds that, in a statement, "the buildings' co-op board blamed the delays on 'roadblocks and obstacles' by Con Edison and the Department of Buildings. An attorney for the board did not immediately respond to questions about what those roadblocks are." At least it looks as if they'll have their hot water before winter hits. Now that would really suck.

Con Edison seems to be all over the news this week. On April 29, workers responded to a small fire at the Acropolis Gardens co-op. After having discovered "unauthorized piping," they shut the gas off in 8 of the 16 buildings making up the development, which spans from 33rd to 35th streets between Ditmars Boulevard and 21st Avenue. According to DNAinfo, tenants are still waiting for service to be restored and have been without cooking gas or hot water all this time. A spokesperson for the utility company told DNAinfo that "the management company must complete plumbing work and make the buildings safe before [it] can restore service." The management company, in turn, is blaming Con Edison, "saying the company shut off the gas after mistaking a valve that was installed two years ago for a recent installation." Some of the frustrated tenants seem to be pointing the finger at the management company, Metropolitan Pacific Properties. The article reports that "others in the buildings [say] this isn't the first time Acropolis Gardens has been without heat and hot water. Another complained about broken intercom systems and trash piling up in the alleys between buildings." It even quotes one tenant as claiming, outright, that the building is "terribly managed." It's a long time to be without heat and hot water, considering how much money building residents pay in maintenance fees alone — not to mention that the long interruption in service is not due to a gas leak

Photo by Scott Bintner for Property Shark

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.

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