New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine June 2020 free digital issue

HABITAT

CO-OP CITY

It's been a couple of weeks since we told you about Marion Scott Real Estate's lawsuit against RiverBay, Co-op City's board of directors, which controls the 50,000-resident complex. The management company's lawsuit in state Supreme Court claims the corporation's move to suspend it was illegal. Furthermore, the New York State Homes and Community Renewal agency urged the board to reinstate and retain Marion Scott until it wraps up an investigation into the allegations. Which it didn't. So here we are, two weeks later. Marion Scott remains locked out, and the New York Daily News reports that a Manhattan Supreme Court judge denied Marion Scott’s request for a preliminary injunction, although "Justice Paul Wooten [did agree] that the directors acted inappropriately when they cited a host of alleged missteps and suspended the management company." The lawsuit is still pending.

Co-op City has had a rough start to 2015. The RiverBay board of directors is already in hot water with the New York State Homes and Community Renewal agency, and is being sued by ousted property manager Marion Scott Real Estate. Now what? Eight Co-op City residents have been diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease — a severe form of pneumonia. That's eight of a total of 12 reported cases in The Bronx since December. NY1 reports that tests on the tower used to cool the massive complex's heating and electrical systems came back positive for the bacteria that causes Legionnaires'. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has "ordered Co-op City officials to decontaminate the towers and shut them down." Meanwhile the New York Daily News reported that RiverBay is "paying a chemical treatment company $200,000 to scrub down the tower." You cannot catch Legionnaires' from person-to-person contact, but rather from inhaling the bacteria. According to the Mayo Clinic, older adults, smokers and people with weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible. Symptoms include headache, muscle pain, chills and a fever of 104 degrees or higher.

It's been an especially tumultuous few months in Co-op City. In October 2014, the massive residential complex in The Bronx announced plans to replace Marion Scott Real Estate, the managing agent that oversees all operations at the Mitchell-Lama complex in Baychester.

A month later, the New York Daily News reported that during a public meeting, the RiverBay board of directors, which controls the 50,000-resident complex, had officially taken over "day-to-day operations." According to the report, the board was already considering bids from eight competing companies to replace Marion Scott. Moreover, the board reportedly made serious allegations against the management company; sent a letter to the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal, the agency in charge of affordable housing; and called for a state investigation of its charges against Marion Scott.

It was already apparent, however, that severing ties completely would be a lot more complicated than expected. Why? 

Late last month, we told you about Co-op City's plans to replace Marion Scott Real Estate, the managing agent that oversees all operations at the Mitchell-Lama complex in Baychester. Now the New York Daily News has reported that during a "fiery public meeting" last week the RiverBay board of directors, which controls the 50,000-resident complex, has officially taken over "day-to-day operations." According to the report, the board expects to replace Marion Scott by early next year and is currently considering bids from eight competing companies. The board is making serious allegations against the management company and has sent a letter to the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal, the agency in charge of affordable housing. It's also calling for a state investigation of its charges against Marion Scott. But severing ties completely may be a lot more complicated than expected thanks to the terms of RiverBay's financing deal with the government and Wells Fargo Bank, the report said. 

The massive Co-op City residential complex in The Bronx has sent out requests for proposals to seek new property management.

The Mitchell-Lama co-op of 15,372 residential units in 25 high-rise buildings and seven clusters of townhouses is seeking to replace Marion Scott Real Estate, which has managed the complex since 1998, reports Real Estate Weekly. Firms can bid through Nov. 19 to manage all of Co-op City or either the residential or commercial portions, the magazine said.

Co-op City marked a first at the end of October. The mammoth housing development in The Bronx inaugurated the Rivers Run Community Garden, its first riverfront green space. The Bronx Times reports that the garden's co-founder and vice president, Leslie Peterson, wanted to transform the unused space into something that would raise Co-op City's profile and benefit the community by giving people a place to plant flowers and grow vegetables and herbs. Helping in the endeavor are the Facilitators Building 13 Association; Riverbay Community Relations; and Rivers Run Community Garden's Steering Community, which in turn, includes Co-op City residents, NYC Parks' GreenThumb and the New York Botanical Garden, among other collaborative partners. You might think their timing is odd, since winter is fast approaching — but there is plenty of work to do ahead of the garden's anticipated spring 2015 completion, including landscaping, constructing walkways and laying mulch in certain spots.

A $5 million class-action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of roughly 900 to 1,000 present and former Co-op City workers against that cooperative's management company, claiming unpaid overtime. The RiverBay Corp., which manages the sprawling, storied complex in The Bronx, has denied the allegations.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, one of the world's richest condominiums has a big, circular driveway it won't let limo drivers use. Why should it? The NYPD looks the other way as a half-dozen or more limos idle daily in a no-parking zone, spewing fumes to other, less connected buildings. Very nice, 15 Central Park West. Meanwhile, rent-controlled seniors in a co-op are forced to evict their son, and a co-op board president admits that people were ahead of him in line when he took a four-bedroom apartment at the affordable-housing East Midtown Plaza. He doesn't have six people in his family like City rules say, but so what? He's just practicing to be the kind of people who live in 15 Central Park West.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, the Realty Advisory Board is negotiating on behalf of boards and landlords as it continues contract talks with the union representing doormen and other building workers. New York State has some questions about NYSERDA money at Co-op City. A Queens co-op seeks money to repair a Sandy-battered seawall. And who's the best building manager and which is the best property-management company in New York. Well, there are many factors consider including continuity of leadership, responsiveness to clients, stability, experience, expertise, sufficient staffing and industry reputation and good will. Or you could just go check out the NYARM Awards.

An attorney for Co-op City, the more than 15,000-unit Bronx cooperative of high-rises and townhouses, is accusing recently elected New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio of reneging on a campaign promise to end an asbestos-abatement order the lawyer calls unnecessary.

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