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Category — NYC Dept. of Buildings

Co-op Buyers Have Triplets: 3 Contiguous Apartments in the Same Building!

The Dorchester: 131 Riverside Drive at 85th Street in ManhattanNeighbors in The Dorchester at 131 Riverside Drive recently did a $2.25 million deal for a sixth floor co-op apartment in this 12-story building, according to New York City public records.

Direct marketing executive Lynn Fantom sold her apartment to next-door-neighbors Monique Neal and Frank Kotsen, whose apartment is adjacent to hers.

Shareholders are combining apartments more frequently than they have in decades, spurred by amended regulations at NYC’s Dept. of Buildings (DOB).

But what makes the latest deal at 131 Riverside far more interesting is that NYC records also show also the new owners also paid $1.55 million last summer for another apartment in the co-op directly above the one that they just bought from Fantom. That would make them the proud owners of 3 contiguous apartments in the same building. Triplets? Hand out chocolate cigars at the annual shareholder meeting!

How to Legally Combine Co-op Apartments

Let’s take a look at how the DOB makes joining adjacent apartments easy to do. According to the agency’s “Technical Policy and Procedure Notice #3/9″ dated November 3, 1997, you can combine existing apartments to create larger ones without affecting the co-op’s Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) by following these guidelines:

An Alteration Type II application may be filed for such combining of apartments with the following restrictions:

  1. The combining of apartments shall be permitted either on the same floor or adjacent floors by interior access stairs connecting not more than two stories, and must result in equal or lower number of zoning rooms. New layouts may maintain existing legal non-complying conditions.
  2. Natural light and air requirements shall be in compliance for each new habitable room and shall not be diminished for existing non-compliant rooms.
  3. Egress from any floor of the building (stairs, corridors, passageways, lobby, fire escape, etc.) shall not be altered under this application.
  4. The second kitchen shall be eliminated and plumbing connections shall be capped, unless the approved application plans indicate an alternative use for the connections, such as for washer, dryer, bar sink, new bathroom, etc.
  5. If the units are condominiums, a new tentative tax lot number shall be obtained from the Department of Finance for the newly created unit prior to filing.

Neal and Kotsen would have to build a staircase between joining the apartment they just bought this month with the one they bought last summer. The DOB regs permit this as long as the connecting staris are “not more than two stories.” While they’d have to eliminate the kitchens and cap the plumbing connections in two of the three contiguous apartments, the DOP does grant exceptions for other plumbing uses like a “washer, dryer, bar sink, new bathroom, etc.”

The caveat here is that any co-op board still has the right to review any proposed alternative plumbing usage. They retain the business discretion to approve or reject these alternatives, even if doing so doesn’t seem to make any sense.

Trading up for more space in your co-op can be a tricky situation. If you’re on good terms with neighbors in the apartment next to yours, let them know about your long-term interest in a bigger
apartment (wink, wink!).

A pre-emptive attempt to hint at a deal with your neighbors is never a bad move. Even if you hate each other, buying their apartment could pry open their inner desire to take your money. Don’t laugh — it at least has the potential for being a win-win situation. Your neighbor’s bank account gets bigger, and you get a bigger apartment without having to change the co-op’s C of O.

Dorchster History and Trivia

The building is located on the northeast corner of 85th street and was built in 1904 and converted to cooperative apartment ownership in 1968. Apartments on higher floors have stunning views of Riverside Park and the Hudson River. In 2005, the co-op’s superintendent Sam Vassallo bought an enormous 2,000 square foot apartment in the building, paying for almost all of it in cash. The co-op board agreed to pay for his monthly maintenance charges, and according to the New York Times, they served Champagne at his board interview!

One more interesting fact: in the original “Odd Couple’ movie, Oscar Madison lived at The Dorchester.

Photo credit: City Realty

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March 25, 2008   2 Comments