Sutton Place co-op in turmoil over terrace fees

Couple sues board for charging only residents with access to outdoor space

16 Sutton Place (Credit: Google Maps)
16 Sutton Place (Credit: Google Maps)

It’s not just New York City parks where tensions about open space are boiling over.

At a co-op building on Sutton Place, the owners of a penthouse unit sued their board Wednesday, claiming “discriminatory and disparate treatment” over maintenance fees for the building’s terraces.

Alixandra and Stuart Baker say the board voted last year to effectively shift the responsibility for maintaining terraces from the building as a whole to the few residents who have access to them.

The couple say the action is invalid because business corporation law prohibits “discriminatory and disparate treatment” and their terrace agreement prohibits such changes without their consent.

This is not the first time the Bakers have sued their building. In 2007, the couple tried to block the board from constructing a rooftop garden, but a judge found they failed to establish that the green space would violate their rights.

The building at 16 Sutton Place, which was built in 1960, has 56 units across 20 stories, according to StreetEasy.

The couple became owners in the building in 1998, and reached a proprietary lease agreement that gave them exclusive use of the building’s rooftop, according to the latest lawsuit.

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While they were required to keep the space tidy, the agreement said the building was responsible for its general maintenance.

But the board’s amendment requires them to not only keep the space clean, but to “maintain, repair and replace elements of the terrace,” which includes doors, railings and paint, the suit said.

On March 9, the couple got a letter from Douglas Elliman stating that the board intended to do restoration work on their terrace in April, in connection with a Local Law 11, which aims to protect pedestrians from falling debris.

The total cost of the work, according to the suit, was estimated to be about $50,000.

The pair are now seeking an injunction demanding that the board cover the maintenance costs.

David Salhanick of Gallet Dreyer Berkey, who is representing the couple, and the co-op board’s counsel, John Van Der Tuin of Smith of Gambrell & Russell, did not respond to requests for comment.

Write to Sylvia Varnham O’Regan at