My family and I have been living in Glen Oaks Village in Queens for over 25 years. Originally built for the families of soldiers returning after World War II, the garden-style cooperative community is one of the largest in the New York metro area, boasting nearly 3,000 units and providing housing for some 10,000 residents.
My husband and I raised our two boys at Glen Oaks Village and we are very proud to be a part of this wonderful co-op community. We thought our roots were firmly planted, but with two growing teenage sons, space in our 860-square-foot apartment began to get confined, and we found ourselves at a crossroads. Do we sell our co-op and move into a single-family home, or come up with a solution to branch out of our cramped quarters?
An Unusual Plan
As it turns out, our family wasn't the only one feeling space-challenged. Bob Friedrich, the board president of Glen Oaks Village, came up with a proactive approach to solving our community's space issue. Since residents living in second-floor apartments had attics, why not build upward to increase their space? Attic space could be converted into useable living space—it would almost be like adding a third story to existing units.
This idea represented a rebirth of sorts for Glen Oaks Village. After all, the community was built in the 1940s as homes for the GI's growing families. But by today's standards, the space needed to expand to accommodate modern families' needs, and to work for shareholders wanting to stay in the community but needing more room in order to make that livable.
How it Works
Retrofitting a 65-year-old building is not a weekend do-it-yourself project. It has to be done right, with minimal disruption to neighbors and community. Also—and particularly for us at Glen Oaks Village—it was important to maintain the character of the buildings.