Living in a co-op or condo means living in a community where residents get to know each other, attend events together and, sometimes, even become really close friends. In most cases, the people you meet are normal, down-to-earth folks, but as much as you think you know all of your neighbors, you can’t possibly know what’s going on behind every closed door.
When Margaret Lowery worked as an assistant property manager in Woodside, Queens, she was surprised about what happened in one particular unit. “We found out that the parents and sons were selling drugs out of the apartment,” she says. “There was proof on the video cameras that people were coming to the building for drugs. Even without the video, we could tell something was going on because of the extra foot traffic.”
The situation was more than just a nuisance; it turned tragic when one of the unit owner’s sons ultimately died of a drug overdose and the other went to prison. It seemed more like a scene out of “Breaking Bad” then a real life scenario.
“These situations happen all the time,” says Alvin Wasserman, director of asset management and human resources at Fairfield Properties in Melville. “I know of one shareholder who complained to the board that her downstairs neighbor was selling drugs, and it was attracting seedy outsiders to the neighborhood. Cars were coming on the property at all hours of the night, but the guests wouldn’t come into the building. Instead, the complaining neighbor claimed that they would walk to her neighbor’s deck, where ‘something’ would be exchanged.”
Some owners use their units for using, selling and making drugs, while others use it for something a little more lascivious. Dating back to the Prohibition era, Polly “Queen of Tarts” Adler ran a brothel at her condo in The Majestic at 215 West 75th Street. In the 1980s, “Mayflower Madam” Sydney Biddle Barrows ran her escort service out of her unit and just a few years ago, the “Soccer Mom Madam” Anna Gristina was busted organizing her business out of her Manhattan condo.