If you think you’re in like Flynn because you’ve got the dough, you’re still far from done if you’re buying a co-op. Since co-ops account for some 75 percent of New York’s housing stock when it comes to buying, you’d better hold onto your hat. That’s because you still haven’t sat in the personal interview-hot seat with the building’s gatekeepers to not just assess your finances, but to evaluate your worth as an individual. Whether you’re a billionaire, a celebrity, of just a regular Jane with designs on one of these spaces, just keep in mind that there are a set of commandments that are never to be broken. Because when they are, there will be hell to pay.
We’ve gathered up some of the best co-op board horror stories around, with anecdotes that involve everyone from Jerry Seinfeld to Steven Spielberg to a feisty little dachshund caught up in a bait-and-switch.
some unbelievable co-op board stories here
Photo: Joe Buglewicz
As the transformation of Queens reaches a bit deeper into the borough, it’s really no surprise that Jackson Heights is quickly becoming a focal point for savvy buyers and renters. The area, roughly bounded by Northern Boulevard, Junction Boulevard, Roosevelt Avenue and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, is fully loaded with stunning pre-war co-ops practically everywhere and shiny new redevelopments for under $800,000. Combine this with its diverse cultural offerings and a myriad of subways that can always get you smack dab in the middle of Manhattan in less than 30 minutes (that’s better than a lot of the up-and-coming areas of Brooklyn, mind you), it has all the makings for the next hipster-setting housing boom.
Why Jackson Heights is one to consider
There’s nothing like owning thousands of square feet of living space inside a penthouse, particularly in a town where power is measured by the size of one’s apartment. Ever wonder when the very first penthouse was built in Manhattan? It was in 1925, when George Fuller Construction Company decided to develop a 14-story apartment house at 1107 Fifth Avenue between 91st and 92nd Streets.
The rest of the story this way
Recent reports show that NoMad has taken over the top spot for priciest neighborhood in the city in which to rent, with a one-bedroom unit going for an average of $4,270/month. For most real estate aficionados this isn’t shocking, as the neighborhood has been growing into one of the city’s hottest spots for the past several years, but few know of the area’s fascinating past.
Named for our fourth president, James Madison, the 6.2-acre Madison Square Park was first used as a potter’s field, then an army arsenal, then a military parade ground and finally as the New York House of Refuge children’s shelter, until it was destroyed by a fire in 1839. After the fire, the land between 23rd and 26th Streets from Fifth to Madison Avenues was established as a public park enclosed by a cast-iron fence in 1847. The redesign included pedestrian walkways, lush shrubbery, open lawns, fountains, benches and monuments and is actually similar to the park that exists today.
Find out how our beloved madison square park came to be
Of Brooklyn’s gentrifying neighborhoods, few have seen such rapid change as Bushwick. The neighborhood, which sits in the northern portion of the borough, running from Flushing Avenue to Broadway to Conway Street and the Cemetery of the Evergreens, has grown as a natural extension of Williamsburg—a haven for creatives and young folks looking for lower rents. But well before its trendy vibe put it on the map, Bushwick was a forested enclave originally settled by the Dutch—its name is derived from a Dutch word “Boswijck,”defined as “little town in the woods”—and later, German immigrants who began building breweries and factories.
Unfortunately, as the breweries along Brewer’s Row and factories closed and farms disappeared, derelict buildings and crime took hold—with the looting, arson and rioting after the city’s blackout during the summer of 1977 playing a starring role. According to the New York Times, “In a five-year period in the late 1960s and early 70s, the Bushwick neighborhood was transformed from a neatly maintained community of wood houses into what often approached a no man’s land of abandoned buildings, empty lots, drugs and arson.”
More on Bushwick’s past… and present
Riverbank State Park. Image via Dattner Architects
In a city that moves so fast that the Sunday edition of the New York Times comes out on Saturday, it is not surprising that New Yorkers might overlook some interesting factoids. For instance, New York City is home seven state parks! So, instead of enjoying a day inside other state parks filled with the ubiquitous lush greenery and a plethora of activities that might surely mean a couple of hours of driving—cityside state parks are but a subway ride away or possibly a short walk to the likes of the East River State Park on Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, the Clay Pit Ponds State Park in Staten Island and the Roberto Clemente State Park in the Bronx.
One of the most popular, with its grassy stretches of pastoral idyll against a spectacular backdrop, is the 28-acre Riverbank State Park near 143rd Street (seen in the two images above). A multi-level facility set 69 feet above the Hudson River on Riverside Drive, it opened in 1993. What’s more, this park is the only one of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. Inspired by Japan’s urban rooftop designs, it was created on top of a now-odorless sewage treatment facility on the Hudson.
Image via the Historic Districts Council
What once seemed unheard-of in terms of where to rent or buy in tertiary neighborhoods is now a thing of the past—be it Harlem, Williamsburg, Hell’s Kitchen, Long Island City, or the Lower East Side. But one of the best examples of rapid transformation is Brooklyn. Certainly there are many coveted communities such as Brooklyn Heights, Prospect Heights, and Park Slope, but there is another neighborhood making what looks like a very successful run at gentrification: Crown Heights.
More on the Crown Heights renaissance here
Certain neighborhoods are becoming increasingly sought after by observant Jews—but in keeping with what is written in the Torah, apartment hunting can be a formidable undertaking. Observant Jews not only have to deal with New York City’s low vacancy rate but they need to find a home that, most importantly, is within walking distance to shul (synagogue) from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday and some Jewish holidays—owing to the fact that Sabbath obligations, of which there are a lot, do not allow one to drive a car. It goes against what’s written in the Torah to start or extinguish fires during the Sabbath, and, well, cars burn fuel. And by the way, this also means cooking only one, single, solitary item.
Find out more here
Brokers spend their days showing soon-to-be buyers a place of residence that checks off every box on their sizable wish list, whether they require enough servants’ quarters to handle about half of a Downton Abbey-sized staff or a master suite with a dressing room as big as a living room. Brokers hope, obviously, that once inside, the client will somehow send out telepathic signals that at last, they’ve found “the one.”
But what about the brokers’ own hopes and dreams? After all, everyone has a bucket list when it comes to living quarters.
Not so surprisingly, Manhattan has a slew of cemeteries, graveyards and built-over potter’s fields (for unclaimed bodies). Madison Square Park was originally used as a potter’s field, as was Bryant Park. And though these swaths of land served many purposes over the years, it took an eternity before they were lovely public parks. From the late 1600s, burial grounds were generally confined to what would now be just south of City Hall, but more began popping up further uptown during the 1800s as the city’s population grew in leaps and bounds.
With Halloween upon us, tis’ the season for checking out if living near one might give a buyer a bit of a ghostly scare or whether it takes an eternity to sell when the living room window overlooks tombstones marking coffins buried six feet under.
Hear what experts say, and then learn about the city’s most notable graveyards.
Do homes near cemeteries sell at a discount in NYC?
In our new feature Before They Were Brokers we catch up with New York’s top real estate pros who, in a previous life, did things you would have never guessed. Read on for their fun and quirky stories.
Some follow in their successful family’s footsteps, be it the Trumps, the Zeckendorfs or perhaps, the Rudins or Dursts — but others grow up with thoughts of following a career path that lands them in the field of medicine, education, and quite often — show business. Of course there are the “naturally destined” individuals who spent a good part of their childhood prodigiously playing Monopoly and considered flipping their backyard playhouse at a profit.
Take Robin Lyon-Gardiner, who at the age of 16, saw her first musical and immediately decided to prepare herself for stardom on Broadway. Armed with a B.F.A. in Musical Theater from Syracuse University that included a semester in London to enhance her musical endeavors, it wasn’t long before Robin began snagging roles in some The Great White Way’s most famous musicals on the planet, including the Tony Award-winning “A Chorus Line”.
More on Robin’s fascinating past here
According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), Manhattan boasts about 20 bridges that connect the Big Apple to neighboring areas—many of which have various degrees of landmark status, including the Brooklyn Bridge, the George Washington Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, the High Bridge, the University Heights Bridge and the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. We often use these marvels without giving them much thought beyond the grandiose size and maybe their engineering, so to give you a little trivia to impress your friends with the next time you cross one these storied bridges, we’re offering up a handy primer on seven of the city’s most famous.
A quick primer on the city’s top bridges
, Tue, September 30, 2014
Car-owing New Yorkers can probably recite year-round alternative-side parking laws on cue, but most will also tell you how they loathe circling their block for 20 minutes, tracking which days to stay put, the inconvenience of babysitting a spot before the switch, figuring out a cluster of parking signs or, worse yet, arguing with a paid-for parking squatter. It often drives one batty.
Yet, there is an option and that’s paying for a monthly but costly sliver of asphalt—hopefully an elevator ride away or at the very least, a quick walk a few doors down. However, the key word here is “paying” and if you live in New York, that slice of space could put you back a pretty penny, especially if you’re shoveling out dollars for one in a new development.
Unless you’ve been living under a real estate rock, there’s no doubt you’ve read about the $1 million dollar spaces at 42 Crosby Street’s garage in SoHo. Is this lofty price tag for parking a market first? Nope.
more on the price of parking here
, Fri, September 19, 2014
Image courtesy of MNCY
Long considered the capital of Jewish America, this overpoweringly cramped neighborhood was considered by many to be the greatest concentration of Jewish life in nearly 2,000 years.
Between 1880 and 1924, 2.5 million mostly-impoverished Ashkenazi Jews came to the US and nearly 75 percent took up residence on the Lower East Side. According to the Library of Congress, by 1900, more than 700 people per acre were settling in a neighborhood lined with tenements and factories. And as quickly as they descended on the streets, all sharing a common language (mostly Yiddish) and most certainly, similar backgrounds, they quickly established synagogues as early as 1865 (the landmarked Bialystoker Synagogue, whose congregants were mostly Polish immigrants from Bailystok), small shops, pushcarts teeming with goods, social clubs and even financial-aid societies.
By 1910, the Lower East Side’s population was well over the five million mark, but sadly, such congestion habitually caused havoc.
Learn more about the history of the LES here
, Fri, September 12, 2014
A view towards the Williamsburg Bridge. Image © Ray’s Tours
There has always been a somewhat “invisible” line dividing ritzier North Williamsburg and the once-grittier-but-now-gentrifying South Williamsburg neighborhood—and that southern portion’s border is generally considered to be from Grand Street to Division Avenue between Union Avenue and the East River. And though this south side of the neighborhood continues to be populated by a diverse group of residents, new amenity-filled developments are quickly attracting a younger population and pushing prices to match those in the northern part of the nabe. Here, we take a look at some of the most notable developments and a few cool listings bridging the gap ahead.
Find out more here