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2016: Habitat Year in Review


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The year is ending, and that means it’s time to look back on what was good, what was bad, and what was downright inane in the New York real estate world in the past 12 months.

 

THE “WHAT-DO-YOU-THINK-THE-CAMERA-IS-THERE-FOR?” AWARD: To the 70-something shareholder who claimed she had a spinal condition, yet climbed a ladder and smashed a surveillance camera that was recording her breaking building rules by putting food in the back yard for feral cats. She apparently never heard of video recordings – which not only survived the attack but also revealed the attacker’s identity.

 

THE “DONALD-TRUMP-LIMITED-VOCABULARY” PRIZE: To designer Tina Tilzer, who noted about a lobby redesign of hers: “That really made a huge difference; I used huge pieces. It’s a very big lobby.”

 

THE “YOU-CAN’T-BORROW-SUGAR-FROM-AN-LLC” AWARD: To co-ops brave (or ignorant) enough to let Limited Liability Companies buy into their co-ops.

 

THE DOPPELGANGER AWARD (posthumously): To Buchbinder Warren management executive Norman Buchinder (1923-2007), who, ironically enough for a hard-working capitalist, was named after the socialist Norman Thomas, but who faced a more disconcerting development during his life as a manager: he was sometimes confused with another management executive who worked for Sulzberger-Rolfe and whose name also happened to be Norman Buchbinder.

 

THE “FOLLOW-THE-BOUNCING-CHECK” AWARD: To The Forester, a Queens co-op that discovered it had no money in its account when a $10 check to a shareholder bounced. The manager had stolen funds and bounced so many checks that the bank ultimately required him to use rubber-proof wire transfers.

 

THE “WE-ARE-THE-WORLD” AWARD: To Upper West Side doorman Julio De Leon, who talked a would-be-suicide off the George Washington Bridge and describes himself as himself as a cross between a diplomat and a psychologist, which was crucial in the incident on the bridge. “There is no life without conflicts,” he says. “I try to calm things down, try to make peace.”

 

THE “GOING-AGAINST-THE-GRAIN” PRIZE: To the co-op at 570 44th Street in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park, one of New York’s original co-ops, that actively discourages sublets, “especially,” says board secretary Alan Saly, “if people make a profit.”

 

THE “MOST-DRAMATIC-BUT-MEANINGLESS QUOTE” AWARD: To the anonymous broker involved in the transition of Dreamy Hollow, a Norwalk, Connecticut, co-op, to rental status: “Dreamy Hollow was born in sin and dwelled in sin forever.”

 

THE “PANTS-ON-FIRE” PRIZE: To Sonja Forester, who bought a condo in Manhattan after acknowledging to the board that she clearly understood that residential units were for “private residential use,” but who apparently had difficulty with the word “residential.” Two months after she bought, she was living elsewhere and had opened a day-care center in the apartment.

 

THE “LET-THEM-EAT-CAKE” AWARD: To the Greenwich, Connecticut, co-op, that successfully opposed the expansion of a church-sponsored program providing food to the needy because the change would have brought more delivery trucks and more noise, and would have blocked sightlines for 20 of the complex’s 190 apartments.
 

THE “I-DIDN’T-MEAN-TO-BE-SO-HONEST” PRIZE: To Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer, who, when asked why there had been no efforts to reform the city’s unfair tax assessment program, stuttered for a while before admitting that it was “just too political to do.”

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THE “BUT-HE’D-BE-GOOD-IF-YOU-LOST-YOUR-KEYS” AWARD: To labor lawyer Robert Spara, who, in the wake of the new Fair Chance Act, offered an opinion on the hiring of ex-cons as staff: “Did the guy get out of Sing-Sing last week for breaking and entering? That’s a legitimate concern.”

 

THE “TWO-PLUS-TWO-EQUALS-FIVE” AWARD: To the board of Queens co-op that rejected an unmarried man’s purchase offer of $200,000 because it was “too low,” then rejected an unmarried woman’s purchase offer of $202,500 for the same apartment because her finances were “inadequate,” before finally agreeing to a sale price of $160,000.

THE “BEST-34-YEAR-OLD-MEDIA-CONGLOMERATE-ABOUT-RUNNING-A-CO-OP-OR-CONDO-IN-NEW-YORK-CITY” AWARD: To Habitat.

 

November 2, 2016