A Meeting of the Minds Board Presidents Chat Over Bagels and Budgets

The Cooperator recently hosted the first of what is hoped to be an ongoing series of casual, roundtable-style forums in which co-op and condo presidents from all five boroughs met to discuss issues and concerns of particular interest to shareholders and unit owners. The brainchild of the Federation of New York Housing Cooperatives and Condominiums (FNYHC) and The Cooperator, the roundtable idea was pitched to a cross-section of building presidents ranging in size from fewer than a dozen units to multi-unit high-rise complexes. They were invited to sit down with their colleagues to share experiences, air concerns, trade ideas, and even vent a little.

The discussion forum, according to moderator Albert Pennisi, the FNYHC president, who is also a Manhattan-based real estate attorney, was an attempt to gain a better understanding and "a sense of the issues and challenges facing co-op and condo boards throughout the city and in Nassau and Westchester counties."

Panelists included Albert Wolfson, president of The Tiffany at Westbury, a community of senior citizens in Nassau County and the only condominium represented at the roundtable; Jim Quinn, president of the North Shore Towers, a six-building luxury co-op complex consisting of 1,844 units in Queens; Jerry Reiser, president of Nostrand Gardens, a 350-unit co-op in Brooklyn; Andrea Hirshman, president of 30 Ocean Parkway, a recently-converted 70-unit building in Brooklyn, and Jordi Reyes-Montblanc, president of the Housing Development Fund Council (HDFC) and a low-income cooperative housing development in the Hamilton Heights section of Upper Manhattan.

One issue of importance, which all the presidents were in agreement, is the rising insurance costs affecting their board's bottom lines.

High Risk Equals Higher Premiums

Pennisi noted that the insurance industry is still reeling from the effects of September 11th and the ramifications of terrorism, payouts from mold, and other types of litigation, and these higher premiums are subsequently being passed down to the customer. In some cases, buildings have had their policies cancelled altogether, he said. The presidents were asked what actions their boards have taken to minimize their liability, maximize their coverage, and at the same time, keep costs down.

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