New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide

HABITAT

WESTCHESTER COUNTY

When the 37-story Trump Tower at City Center condominium in White Plains was built in 2006, developer Louis Cappelli estimated that the building's annual energy bill would be $700,000. Instead, the first year's costs were double that. Condo board members were shocked: This brand-new luxury tower was an energy hog. In January 2007, the board hired Larry Gomez of Trump Management to manage their property. The first order of business: Cut the energy bill down to size. But with board members wary and residents reluctant to make changes, was the battle doomed from the start?

 

For the middle-class cooperative in White Plains, N.Y., the complaint started with bugs. When several shareholders called the super to complain about cockroaches in their usually well-maintained building, he called an exterminator — and when the two entered the apartment of an elderly shareholder, they realized they had a bigger problem on their hands: She had accumulated masses of garbage and seemed unable or unwilling to rid herself of the debris. At that point, it becomes a building-wide issue, and the board's responsibility to correct.

Eric Ackerman, board president of a 192-unit co-op in Mamaroneck in Westchester County, recalls the incident clearly. A tenant-shareholder approached him in the elevator and asked: "Where was all that smoke coming from the day before yesterday?"

"Smoke?" Ackerman replied. It was the first he had heard about it. 

Puzzled, he called the property manager.

It is almost a mantra with Fred Rudd, the president of Rudd Realty. "You must have a balanced budget," he says firmly, noting that many co-op boards and condo associations make the mistake of trying to balance the budget by raiding the reserves. "Because of that, when it comes to a rainy day, they don't have adequate funds to deal with the problems as they arise."

... a Brooklyn co-op ponders the cost of repairs now that its building has been landmarked and a buyer gets blindsided by a seller not honoring a deal — wait till you read why. And a real-estate attorney explains how co-op boards may just have saved New York City real estate.

Co-op board president Michael Kaplan puts it bluntly about the condition of the HVAC system at the Garth Essex, a 346-unit co-op in Eastchester, a town in New York's Westchester County just north of New York City. "The equipment was from the 1960s. It was failing. We were repairing it all the time. To a certain extent, we had even started to reach the limit of what we could do with repairs. We were running on borrowed time."

The solution: the board swapped out the aging dual-fuel boilers for newer models, which lowered their bills through increased efficiency. But they also reduced costs by completely changing the way the building was heated and cooled and provided hot water.

The end result? The co-op reduced its water consumption by 25 percent and its costs by half. Fuel usage has dropped by 53 percent, and maintenance costs to the HVAC system have plunged 40 percent.

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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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