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.
Photo via Plowboylifestyle/CC
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?