New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine October 2020 free digital issue



The co-op's pool was quite literally slip, slidin' away.

The 142-unit co-op, at 2575 Palisade Avenue in the Riverdale section of The Bronx, is a paradise of sorts — at least according to Harry Amer, a resident since 1980 and board president since 1982. "Everybody has a beautiful view of the Hudson River and the Palisades," says Amer. "There are no buildings to the west of us, [just] a greenbelt, the trees, and Metro North train rails. Other than that, you feel like you're more in the country than in New York City."

Yet the seven-member board found it had trouble in paradise — trouble with a capital 'T' and that rhymes with 'P' and that stands for pool.

Trip-and-fall cases are the bane of all buildings, co-ops and condos most definitely included. And while you can't foresee every circumstance that might cause a resident or a visitor, including first responders, to fall and hurt themselves, there are steps a prudent board can take to minimize the risk. As Habitat has written, for instance, you can make sure your floor drains are clear and uncluttered, to prevent flooding when sprinklers go off, and you can choose not to hold meetings in an unfinished commercial space.

Our latest suggestion, based on a real-life trip-and-fall court case: If you have ramp at your door, make sure it has handrails on both sides. Because believe it or not, here's what can happen.

Updated Oct. 3 — When the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) shut down the gas in one of the three Skyview-on-the-Hudson buildings, in the Riverdale section of The Bronx, the co-op had to spend over $100,000 in upgrades before getting service returned after nearly two weeks. The co-op found it more cost- and time-effective to preemptively replace the hose connection behind the stove in every unit rather than find which ones had leaks.

Opportunity in an Owner's Misfortune: Sublet Limits Force a Foreclosure

Written by Bill Morris; additonal material by Frank Lovece on December 31, 1969

Riverdale, The Bronx

Sept. 16, 2009 — New York City hasn't been hit as hard by bankruptcies and mortgage foreclosures as other parts of the country, but this recession has been taking its toll. So it was no great shock when a shareholder at a 77-unit, red-brick co-op in Riverdale, The Bronx, started falling behind on his monthly maintenance payments.

What is remarkable is how the board turned one shareholder's misfortune into a bonanza for the entire co-op.

You can hear the smile in Mary Ann Dowling’s voice when she talks about the sense of community in her Bronx co-op. “It’s a mixture of people — some young, and the majority of [recent] sales are young couples with kids  but there are people who have lived here since the building was built” in 1953, says Dowling, the board president at Briar Oaks in Riverdale. “It’s a real community.”

Her name was Kim and she lived in Forest Hills, Queens, in a 100-unit cooperative. She was on the co-op board and was talking, with great animation, about a shareholder who had "disappeared" and mysteriously left his apartment empty. My ears perked up. Was this a story of drama and intrigue, one that would offer new insights into board life?

Today Habitat introduces "Teachable Moments," an occasional feature in which leading management professionals offer quick takes on various topics of interest to co-op and condo board members. In the first of this series, four industry veterans give mini-lessons on how to find creative solutions to problems that resist the usual approaches.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. Yet another restaurant, yet another building fighting it: Like the planned Denny's in FiDi and a still-unnamed Mexican place in Tribeca, the Atlantic Terrace co-op in Brooklyn (left) wants to say arrivederci to Tony Roma's. Plus, a shareholder's riled in Riverdale and we remember the Rembrandt, New York City's first co-op. And co-op / condo boards won't want to miss the lawsuit alleging a scam of Weekend at Bernie's proportions!

I served for 25 years as the president of my co-op board (and hope to serve on the board again, perhaps). We are a 20-story, 339-unit cooperative building located in the Riverdale section of The Bronx, with a diverse cross-section of people. In my quarter-decade of service I learned many things, but one of the most important was to be flexible. What do I mean by that? Rules are important. Generally speaking, they must be enforced. But wise condo and co-op boards can and should know when to make exceptions. Over the years as president, I learned when to do that.

Joseph Bohm was frustrated. As he saw fuel prices rising, he thought the co-op in which he lived was “missing a bet. We were losing money,” he recalls. “It bothered me no end where heating-oil prices were relative to gas prices. I pushed the board to make a change to gas, or to a dual-fuel system" where the co-op could switch from one source of fuel to another, depending on price. No one was really sure how to go about doing it. Nor was I.” Here's how he found out.

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Ask the Experts

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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

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

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