New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine July/August 2020 free digital issue

HABITAT

GLEN OAKS VILLAGE

Co-op adds $10 million in value by allowing shareholders to initiate home improvements.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, why didn't anyone tell Co-op City's residents there were outbreaks of Legionnaires' Disease? Why did a community board recommend a restaurateur's liquor license over the objections of people living in the same building? And why did a smokers'-rights group butt out of a condo forum? Plus: You can't take your kid's stroller into the passenger elevator? Seriously? 

Local Law 84 of 2009 mandates that New York City buildings larger than 50,000 square feet must record and track their energy and water use, with the grades made public. This allow you to see how well your building is doing and how it compares with other buildings. But energy experts say there are still kinks to be worked out: The data is not always accurate and it's difficult to access.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, The Plaza puts the pedal to the mettle, as the storied hotel-condominium sues to get rid of a CitiBike rack. Also suing: Corporations fighting Joan Rivers' condo nemesis Elizabeth Hazan (see last week's News Roundup), and Yoko Ono, who says her West Village co-op board is walking on thin ice. We've renovation plans a board won't like, the latest on mortgage rate-locks, and superstorm Sandy woes persist in The Rockaways, Coney Island and elsewhere.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, they do love their cigarettes in Queens, a Long Islander may face eviction for burning the wrong kind of firewood and Petey the Pig's "parents" are trying to sell their co-op apartment and fine a more swine-friendly place. There's a Harlem co-op / condo expo April 6-7. And where the wild things aren't is in the late Maurice Sendak's co-op, now up for sale. Plus, for condo and condo and co-op boards, we've advice on mediation.

Every January, the New York City Department of Finance releases preliminary figures for the coming fiscal year's property-tax assessments. Homeowners, typically, often contest these figures, and in a standard legal process called tax certiorari eventually receive a refund. The city even offers a database of property-tax refunds. But something different happened last year, when the DoF hit some co-ops in northeastern Queens with demonstrably unrealistic, triple-digit increases that shocked all reasonable observers. Yet it took public outrage in the form of protests and a widespread tax revolt before the DoF finally begin to question figures so obviously and blatantly incorrect. And now this year, say community leaders, it's all happening again.

Despite an average 4.1 percent increase over last year in Queens overall, according to tentative figures by the DoF, "My own properties have increased an average of 7.7 percent," says Warren Schreiber, board president of the 200-unit Section 1 of the 12-section Bay Terrace Cooperative, who says co-ops in northeastern Queens are seeing high double-digit spikes. "At Deepdale Gardens, one of the biggest garden apartment complexes in Queens, each one of their block and lots came in at a 50 percent increase. At another Alley Pond, they came in at about 47 percent."

We may go forward and

demand the resignation

of Commissioner Frankel.

Bob Friedrich, president of Glen Oaks Village and co-president, with Schreiber, of the co-op /condo board-member group the Presidents Co-op Council, estimates the average increase at his 2,904-unit co-op complex at about 21 percent. "And we can’t forget about last year," he says, "when we were increased 50 percent with a five-year phase-in, 10 percent a year. Now we're seeing huge increases again. It is unsustainable, unfordable and unacceptable. They are pushing the middle class out of this city very quickly. These are just unaffordable increases in an economic period of time that is completely unjustified."

Among the other boroughs, Brooklyn saw a 4.2 percent average increase over last year while Manhattan's average jumped nearly five 5%, according to figures that the DoF released on Jan. 19.

Roughly 80 percent of the reduced-tax offers that the New York City Tax Commission makes each year get accepted, "for many reasons," says commission president Glenn Newman. "Sometimes," he says forthrightly, "the taxpayer just wants to get quick relief: We finish [our reviews] within the year, but court proceedings can take five years or more."

The commission has its own many reasons for making these reduced-tax offers, since, as it puts it in its annual report, "A fair and efficient review process is essential to reducing costly litigation of assessment disputes … that might be further contested [in court], costing additional time and resources for taxpayers and the city."

"Real estate taxes have suddenly become the highest line item in a co-op's budget, and that being the case, boards should understand the [appeals] process," says attorney Eric Weiss, a tax specialist and partner at Tuchman Korngold Weiss Lippman & Gelles. "And they should be able to participate in the process if they feel that's important. I think it is important, from a budgetary standpoint."

It's not just a tax attorney saying that. Bob Friedrich, board president of the 110-building, 10,000-resident Glen Oaks Village co-op in Queens, agrees. "I think it's very important that all co-ops understand why they must appeal the valuations assessed against their properties," he says. This is also true of condo boards, which file appeals on behalf of the individually taxed apartment-owners, and for the condominium association's property taxes.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, an Afghan War vet says his Shih Tzu helps his PTSD; co-op wonders otherwise; a condo board loses over phantom cigarette smoke; and while one co-op hopes a new commercial tenant finally takes, another backs down on tacky chains. Plus, Chloë Sevigny has no big love for her co-op anymore. And for condo / co-op boards, we've the latest on green roofs and on e-mailing notices.

... some Queens co-ops and condos are getting double or triple their usual water bills after automated meter readers go in, New York State Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein demands tax fairness, and State Senator Tony Avella wants to know why New York City repairs sidewalks damaged by trees at all types of homes except co-ops and condos.

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