Tag Archives: condo

Co-op, condo owners have one month before city can take away tax abatement


| mchan@queenscourier.com


Some co-op and condo owners have one month to prove their residency before the city takes away their tax abatement benefits.

According to co-op leaders, a large number of residents have received a notice in the mail from the city’s Department of Finance (DOF) stating they have until April 1 to verify their apartment unit is their primary residence in order to quality for their full abatement.

“Our records show that this unit is not your primary residence, so your abatement will be phased out,” the notice reads.
But co-op presidents said residents who received the letter have been predominantly living in their apartments for decades. The notice, leaders said, stems from the department’s poor record keeping.

“In true fashion, this is the Department of Finance’s inability to get their act together,” said Bob Friedrich, president of Glen Oaks Village Owners. “It doesn’t surprise me that the [DOF] shows themselves to be an agency that is shockingly out of touch with the average taxpayer.”

The abatement loss could cost residents from $300 to $1,000, co-op presidents said.

According to Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, a DOF system glitch allows abatement credits to be transferred to new co-op owners when a previous owner moves out. Many times, the new owner is not eligible for those abatements but still benefits from them.

DOF spokesperson Owen Stone said that happens because there are no deeds involved. The transfer of credits is not reversed until co-op boards report the discrepancies to the department.

In regards to the abatement notice, Stone said the DOF is “working to ensure that those who qualify for the benefit receive it.”

Residents have four weeks from when the form was mailed to complete and return it, he said.

Friedrich said he fears residents who are away for the winter will miss the deadline and lose their abatements.

 

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Legislators come thru for co-op, condo owners


| mchan@queenscourier.com


State leaders will end up keeping their pledge to co-op and condo shareholders in the city.

According to Governor Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the Legislature has reached an agreement on tax relief legislation and will sign it into law when officials return to Albany.

The city will also issue tax bills based on new and lower rates, they said, and the tax abatement — which reduces the difference in property taxes paid by Class 2 co-op and condo properties and one, two and three family homes in Class 1 — will be retroactive.

State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky said the J-51 program, which gives owners partial property tax exemptions for capital improvements, will also be extended to June 30, 2015.

These assurances come after widespread panic in co-op and condo communities at the end of June, when the Legislature adjourned session without extending the city’s J-51 program and the expired abatement. Fear mounted in November after elected officials said the Legislature would not reconvene to pass promised relief.

Assemblymember Ed Braunstein said the Legislature would likely pass his bill, which would increase abatements for middle class co-op owners from 17.5 percent to 25 percent this year and over 28 percent in three years, based on assessments.

Legislature leaves co-op, condo owners in the lurch


| mchan@queenscourier.com


City co-op and condo owners may have to ante up more in taxes after lawmakers said the state Legislature may not reconvene this year to pass promised relief.

“We had hoped the Legislature would meet and pass the annual abatement. It looks like we’re not going back,” said State Senator Tony Avella. “It’s going to be a huge cost to co-op and condo owners and a retreat from everything that we’ve worked on thus far.”

Co-op and condo community leaders said the state Legislature left them high and dry at the end of June, when lawmakers adjourned the session without extending the city’s J-51 program and its tax abatement program, which expired June 30. A bill that would put a halt to skyrocketing property tax valuations was also not addressed by the end of the session, they said.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said the Assembly, Senate and Governor Andrew Cuomo had reached an agreement in July on “landmark” tax relief legislation that would be signed into law later this year when legislators return to Albany.

But lawmakers now say the Legislature may not meet before the year is out, meaning co-op and condo owners may have to brace for bigger tax bills in January.

“I’m very disappointed. They all agreed that a special session would be called, and it’s obviously not happening,” said Bob Friedrich, president of Glen Oaks Village Owners, Inc. “This just goes to show that actions speak louder than words, especially when it comes to politics.”

Friedrich said his community could lose out on about $1 million, which he said would eventually come out of shareholders’ wallets.

“In an economic environment like this, people can’t afford these massive increases,” he said. “It would be crushing.”

The J-51 program gives owners partial property tax exemptions for capital improvements, and the abatement reduces the difference in property taxes paid by Class 2 co-op and condo properties and one, two and three family homes in Class 1 — which are assessed at a lower percentage of market value.

Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, said residents would pay up to an additional $1,200 a year in maintenance costs without the abatement.

“If the state of New York wants to drive affordable housing out of the city, it’s very easy,” he said. “Don’t renew the tax abatements. But if you want us to stay, do it, and it’s not that difficult. All it takes is going back to Albany and having a vote.”

The governor’s office did not respond to calls for comment.

According to a summary report released by the Department of Finance (DOF) this year, taxes are expected to rise by 7.5 percent for co-op owners and 9.6 percent for condo owners across the city. Last year, officials said, some co-op and condo valuations saw astronomical increases as high as 147 percent.

A pair of audits also released this year by the city comptroller’s office found the DOF at fault for causing upheavals in condo and co-op property values — a determining factor in property taxes — when it changed its formula for calculating them in fiscal year 2011-12.

Queens priciest condo hits the market


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

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Queens’ priciest condo hit the market last week, delighting real estate experts and business buffs alike, as they anticipate an increase in luxury living spaces will bring notoriety to the already burgeoning neighborhood of Long Island City.

The costly condo, perched atop The View on Center Boulevard, is priced at $3.25 million – the steepest price of an apartment currently on the market in Queens.

Silvette Julian, the broker handling the sale for Nest Seekers, said the duplex in the sky boasts three bedrooms, four bathrooms, elevated ceilings, gorgeous fixtures and a view of the Manhattan skyline.

“It’s quite possibly the most stunning property in the building,” said Julian, who previously sold several of The View’s other units.

The condominium was built in 2009 by local developer TF Cornerstone. According to Julian, ritzy real estate in Long Island City is swiftly following in the footsteps of the Manhattan market.

“[This property going on the market] is very positive,” said Julian. “It will increase property value and give the neighborhood the recognition it deserves. Long Island City has been a well-kept secret but unfortunately it’s no longer a secret.”

According to Property Shark, a Hunters Point pad sold in 2008 for $3.05 million holds the record for the borough’s most expensive condo.

According to a mid-year report released by Modern Spaces, the average two-bedroom apartment in Long Island City sells for around $900,000, while spaces over 1,500- square-feet go for about $1.3 million. The study said of current inventory, 94 percent is sold and 6 percent is available – showing a divide between the high demand for LIC living spaces and properties available.

Gayle Baron, president of the Long Island City Partnership, said a listing such as this is indicative of current market trends in the neighborhood.

“It certainly is a very positive explanation for what’s happening in Long Island City right now,” said Baron. “When you have an expensive apartment of that nature, you attract other buyers.”

Baron claimed an increase in demand for luxury homes provides critical mass for local businesses, driving retail and restaurants that cater to high-end clientele.

“With these prospective buyers brings more businesses to the neighborhood as well, [businesses] who might not have considered the neighborhood before.”

‘Landmark’ tax relief on the way for co-op and condo owners


| mchan@queenscourier.com


Co-op and condo owners left in the lurch after state lawmakers originally closed the year’s session without passing key pieces of legislation will not be forsaken for long, officials pledged.

The Assembly, Senate and Governor Andrew Cuomo have reached an agreement on “landmark” tax relief legislation that will be signed into law later this year when legislators return to Albany, according to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

“In the short term, the city has issued tax bills for the current fiscal year based on the current tax abatement rates,” Silver said. “When the legislation is signed into law as promised by the governor, we anticipate that the new lower rates will be effective retroactive to July 1.”

Co-op and condo community leaders said the state Legislature left them “high and dry” last week after lawmakers adjourned the session without extending the city’s J-51 program and its tax abatement program. A bill that would put a halt to skyrocketing property tax valuations was also not addressed by the end of the session, they said.

The J-51 program gives owners partial property tax exemptions for capital improvements, and the abatement reduces the difference in property taxes paid by Class 2 co-op and condo properties and one-, two- and three-family homes in Class 1 — which are assessed at a lower percentage of market value.

Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, said residents would pay up to an additional $1,200 a year in maintenance costs without the abatement. Bob Friedrich, president of Glen Oaks Village Owners, Inc., also counted his potential losses, saying his community would lose out on about $1 million.

But local elected officials said co-op owners need not worry about tax increases in the near future. The abatement, which expired June 30, will be continued until the State Legislature reconvenes later this year to pass a new plan, they said.

Assemblymember Ed Braunstein said it was “highly likely” the legislature would also pass his bill, which would increase abatements for middle class co-op owners from 17.5 percent to 25 percent this year and over 28 percent in three years.

“Co-op owners should be encouraged that relief is right around the corner,” Braunstein said.

Meanwhile, co-op and condo community leaders said they remain hopeful for a more permanent, long-term fix on annual valuation spikes.

According to a summary report released by the Department of Finance (DOF) this year, taxes are expected to rise by 7.5 percent for co-op owners and 9.6 percent for condo owners across the city, while owners of single-family homes will see an increase of 2.8 percent. Last year, officials said, some co-op and condo valuations saw astronomical increases as high as 147 percent.

A pair of audits released this year by the city comptroller’s office found the DOF at fault for causing upheavals in condo and co-op property values — a determining factor in property taxes — when it changed its formula for calculating them in fiscal year 2011-12.

Still, a proposed “8/30” valuation cap — which would have limited property tax increases to 8 percent per year or 30 percent over five years — was not passed, and Friedrich said he does not expect a solution to be reached for another year.

“I am optimistic, but actions do speak louder than words,” he said.

Co-op, condo owners left in the lurch


| mchan@queenscourier.com


City co-op and condo owners were dealt a major blow by the State Legislature after lawmakers wrapped up the year’s session without passing three key bills, including one that would put a halt to skyrocketing property tax valuations.

“Three strikes and you’re out. This was a disastrous session if you’re a co-op or condo owner,” said Bob Friedrich, president of Glen Oaks Village Owners, Inc. and cofounder of the President’s Co-op and Condo Council. “The State Legislature left us high and dry.”

State lawmakers had until June 21 to give bills the green light before reconvening next January. Governor Andrew Cuomo said the 2012 session was “one of the most successful in modern political history,” touting accomplishments reached in pension tiers, teacher evaluations and better protections for people with disabilities.

But co-op and condo community activists said legislative leaders adjourned the session without extending the city’s J-51 program, its tax abatement program and not resolving valuation issues. The lack of passage could rip holes through 360,000 residents’ pockets, they said.

“These three issues are not sensitive, political issues. It’s not controversial. It’s simply renewing existing laws that already have widespread support,” Friedrich said. “And yet the legislators, who are paid very well to do their job, came out empty handed.”

The city’s J-51 Program, in existence for decades, gave owners partial property tax exemptions to encourage them to renovate residential apartment buildings, while its property tax abatement program, established in 1996, reduced the difference in property taxes paid by Class 2 co-op and condo properties and one, two and three family homes in Class 1 — which are assessed at a lower percentage of market value.

Friedrich, who expected the abatement to be extended, said if a special session is not called this year to renew the program, Glen Oaks Village alone would lose out on about $1 million, which he said would eventually come out of shareholders’ wallets.

Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance and cofounder of the President’s Co-op and Condo Council, predicted similar revenue losses — which he said would lead to 17 to 25 percent maintenance increases for residents.

“We were all terribly disappointed. These were programs that we already had,” he said. “This will be economically devastating for some residents.”

According to a summary report released by the Department of Finance (DOF) this year, taxes are expected to rise by 7.5 percent for co-op owners and 9.6 percent for condo owners across the city, while owners of single-family homes will see an increase of 2.8 percent. Last year, officials said, some co-op and condo valuations saw astronomical increases as high as 147 percent.

A pair of audits released this year by the city’s comptroller office found the DOF at fault for causing upheavals in condo and co-op property values — a determining factor in property taxes — when it changed its formula for calculating them in Fiscal Year 2011-12.

A “8/30” cap proposed to relieve co-op and condo owners would have limited property tax increases to 8 percent per year or 30 percent over five years, but President’s Co-op and Condo Council officials said they do not expect a fix to be made for another year.

Meanwhile, rumors have been swarming that Cuomo will call lawmakers back to Albany for a special session before the year’s end, reportedly to approve the tax abatement extension.

Councilmember Mark Weprin said “for a fact” the abatement would be renewed and “improved” this year in the fall under Assemblymember Ed Brauinstein’s bill and an agreement with the state.

“It’s not a ‘major blow.’ Once it’s passed, it’ll be a huge victory,” Weprin said.

Despite the unofficial pledge, State Senator Tony Avella and Assemblymembers David Weprin and Mike Simanowitz announced they would be holding a press conference on Monday to rally for the abatement renewal.

Audit finds co-op, condo property values inflated


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/PHOTOS

A series of missteps by the Department of Finance (DOF) caused drastic upward swings in co-op and condo property taxes, according to two audits released by the city’s comptroller office.

“The department failed to adequately explain significant changes it was making in the calculation of market values. What’s more, in numerous cases, they assigned arbitrary values to co-ops and condos, and in other cases made flat out errors,” said Comptroller John Liu.
According to a summary report released by the DOF this year, taxes are expected to rise by 7.5 percent for co-op owners and 9.6 percent for condo owners across the city, while owners of single-family homes will see an increase of 2.8 percent. Last year, officials said, some co-op and condo valuations saw astronomical increases as high as 147 percent.

The pair of audits, Liu said, found the agency at fault for causing upheavals in condo and co-op property values — a determining factor in property taxes — when it changed its formula for calculating them in Fiscal Year 2011-12. He also said the agency operated “in the dark” without warning the public of the consequences.

According to Liu, the DOF compounded the increases in market value by sticking many co-ops and condos with questionable values instead of comparing them to equivalent, nearby rental properties. The agency’s faulty computer system, Liu said, also led to flaws in assessments, in which a Brooklyn co-op was wrongfully compared to a parking lot, a Staten Island co-op to an adult care facility and a Flushing condo to a rental property in Far Rockaway.

At least 10 percent of all 859 co-op buildings in Queens received much higher property values than the DOF’s formula should have allowed, the comptroller said, including one co-op in Forest Hills that received a market value 227 percent higher than expected.

The DOF did not return The Courier’s calls for comment. However, according to Liu, the DOF said it ensures properties are valued properly and does not agree that properties were over-assessed or under-assessed. The agency, Liu said, agreed that “continual improvement of the modeling criteria for selection of comparable properties is appropriate.”

Breakdown of affected units by neighborhood:

BAYSIDE

14

BEECHHURST

3

BELLE HARBOR

1

CORONA

1

DOUGLASTON

6

FLUSHING-NORTH

11

FLUSHING-SOUTH

8

FOREST HILLS

3

GLEN OAKS

20

HOLLIS

2

HOLLIS HILLS

2

JACKSON HEIGHTS

2

JAMAICA

1

LITTLE NECK

3

OAKLAND GARDENS

5

QUEENS VILLAGE

1

REGO PARK

1

SOUTH JAMAICA

1

WHITESTONE

7

The Industry Arrives in Long Island City


| smosco@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Modern Spaces

The expansion of LIC continues. On October 19, Eric Benaim and Ted Kokkoris of Modern Spaces hosted at a premier party to announce that the real estate firm is now marketing The Industry – a condo developed by Silvercup Studios. Guests packed the space at 21-45 44th Drive and were treated to music by DJ Cerok, food by LIC Market and photography by Jesse Winter.

This luxury 76-unit condominium apartment building in vibrant LIC was developed by Stuart and Alan Suna, founders of Silvercup Studios – the city’s largest full-service film & television production facility. The studio is also in LIC and it’s iconic sign can be seen from The Industry’s magnificent rooftop.

With beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline, modern amenities, a landscaped rooftop terrace, and state-of-the-art fitness center, The Industry has everything you need for luxury living in historic, exciting LIC. Check out www.theindustrylic.com for more info.