The condominium board of the Atelier building at 635 West 42nd Street has terminated its management agreement with Cooper Square Realty, the company that has managed the building since it opened in 2007, The Real Deal has learned.
Effective April 30, the 475-unit building will be self-managed, said Dan Neiditch, president of River 2 River Realty, the firm handling rentals and sales for the Midtown West building, and president of the condo board. The building’s board will handle all maintenance and operations in-house, Neiditch said, while back office management company American Property Management will take charge of the building’s finances.
While an increasing number of New York City co-ops and condos have turned towards self-management in recent years to lower common charges, it’s an unusual choice for such a large property, sources said, especially since the building will not be hiring a full-time in-house manager.
“The main reason [for prematurely ending the contract with Cooper Square] is the savings,” Neiditch told The Real Deal. “There’s nothing they were providing that we couldn’t provide ourselves.”
Self-managing will save the building $200,000 a year in costs, Neiditch said, citing the Atelier’s low common charges, which he said are minimal compared with other buildings in the area. Common charges at the building range from $397 per month to $3,600 per month, according to Streeteasy.com.
“[The savings] give us more room to fix up the building or build up a reserve fund so that when something major happens, we’re able to not charge an assessment,” he said.
Only a very small percentage of city buildings are self-managed, according to previous reports, and most are small co-op properties with a maximum of 30 units. Occasionally, larger buildings like the 700-unit Schwab House at 11 Riverside Drive identify themselves as self-managed as they employ a staff on-site as opposed to entering a contract with a managing agent. They are however, operated by a professional staff.
While the Atelier had considered working with their current Cooper Square Realty manager Sabrina Mehmedovic on a more on-site basis, that plan is no longer on the agenda.
“We may go without an on-site person and have the super handle duties,” said Neiditch, who also lives in the building.
One source connected to the building said its board may be correct about the limited value Cooper Square brought to the property, but that the resources the board could provide might also be lacking.
“Sometimes it’s that natural belief [that a management company brings value] that sustains the company beyond what’s natural,” he said.
On the other hand, one attorney argued that without an on-site management person, the Atelier board might find the task of self-managing somewhat overwhelming.
“For such a large building, with the number of amenities they have, I’m not sure how prudent an idea it is,” said attorney Elliot Meisel, of the law firm of Brill & Meisel.
Cooper Square did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
There are currently between 30 and 40 active sales listings in the Atelier building, according to data from Streeteasy.com, and approximately 50 rental listings.