Different generations of co-op owners are at odds over upgrades, fees

Old, new residents often have opposing views about the future of their buildings

Oct.October 28, 2016 12:44 PM

New York City co-op residents are increasingly butting heads over whether or not shelling out cash for revamps and improvements is worth it.

In many cases, the crux of the conflict is a generational divide: Long-term residents and those who recently moved in often have very different income levels. The issue is more concentrated in gentrifying areas.

Those who purchased in the building some 30 years ago may not have the means to shoulder the cost of extra fees and upgrades. According to data from appraisal firm Miller Samuel TRData LogoTINY, the average monthly maintenance charges at Manhattan co-ops have ballooned by 32.9 percent since 2008, to $1.94 a square foot from $1.46.

At Southridge Cooperative Section 1 in Jackson Heights, for example, the board voted two years ago to undertake an $120,00 upgrade of the building. But not everyone thought the changes — which created an extra residents’ bathroom, a library nook and connected the two lobbies — was needed, the New York Times reported.

“The changes are very very nice, but did we really need to spend the money?” Larry Wilkes, a Southridge co-op board member who paid less than $25,000 for his one-bedroom in 1992, told the Times. “I don’t feel that this place needs a glorious library. I spend less than a minute in the lobby, it doesn’t need to be the Taj Mahal.”

Unrenovated one-bedrooms at the co-op now sell for around $200,000. Wilkes told the paper a “plethora” of younger people “hankering for more facilities” is driving up costs at the building.

In terms of new development, co-ops are certainly declining in New York City. Earlier this year, The Real Deal found that developers had filed just 75 plans for new co-op projects since 2000. [NYT]Miriam Hall

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