Q & A with David Kuperberg, founder and CEO of Cooper Square Realty

TRD New York /
Mar.March 15, 2010 02:31 PM
David Kuperberg

Cooper Square Realty, a subsidiary of FirstService Residential Management, is one of the largest residential property management companies in New York City. It manages 437 condominiums, cooperatives, and rental properties in New York City, including the Plaza Residences, 10 West End Avenue and One Lincoln Square, with an aggregate value of over $5 billion.

How profitable is your business today compared to say five years ago?
Our net income is four times higher and our staff has increased more than 150 percent.

Do you have any mergers or acquisitions on the horizon?
We completed two acquisitions in the last year [Wentworth Property Management and JAL] and are currently negotiating several others. With over 160 residential management firms in New York City — many of them smaller and lacking the resources to provide full service — there is ample opportunity for more acquisitions.

The company recently created an energy conservation subsidiary to offer insight to building owners on how to reduce energy consumption. How much does it actually save residents — dollars and cents, please?
To date, we have saved our clients well over $4 million — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Our mission is to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent and costs by 25 percent in each of our client buildings.

Which buildings of yours have the most added value?
While I cannot disclose specific information about our clients, I can tell you that we have added significant value to our properties in several areas including: expense reduction; addition of concierge services and other amenities; finding additional income sources; renegotiating contracts; determining and managing capital improvements; and offering energy conservation and cost savings.

How do you deal with finicky co-op boards?
Condo and co-op boards operate in pretty much the same way, except in the area of admissions. Co-op boards often are accused of being finicky because of what is perceived as rigid admission policies. But in the current environment, these tough policies are paying off, since the risk of shareholder defaults in co-ops is exceptionally low.

How much do you think maintenance charges will go up in the next year?
Historically, increases in most Manhattan co-ops have been in the 2-to 4-percent range. This year, we saw increases in the 5-to-10 percent range — in large part an effect of unfair real estate tax hikes. It’s too early to say what will happen for next year, but if the city of New York continues to increase property taxes as apartment values decline, it will not bode well for owners.

A group of 45 unit owners at Rector Square condominium in Battery Park filed a $100 million lawsuit against Yair Levy, Michael Shvo and you, alleging widespread fraud, negligence and misrepresentation. How do you respond to the suit?
In a lawsuit of this size — there are 12 defendants named — the plaintiffs included as many parties as possible. As the managing agent, we were also named. The majority of claims are unrelated to our role as managing agent; we did nothing wrong.

Compiled by Lauren Elkies.

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