Month: June 2014

Multifamily Laundry Options Today’s Stat

Multifamily Laundry Options

Today’s State-of-the-Art Laundry Rooms

By Paula Castner

Ask people to list the household chores they dislike most, and chances are, doing laundry will consistently rank among the top ten. The need and appreciation for clean clothes gets overshadowed by the inconvenience of constantly having to wash and dry them.

So, when it comes to laundry, “people want flexibility,” says John Sellier, the regional director of sales for Mac-Gray Laundry Services, which is headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, but provides services nationwide. “They want the convenience of being able to do their laundry when they want, how they want.”

Through a merger in 2014, Coinmach and Mac-Gray together now own more than half the market share of condos and HOAs in the country. CSC ServiceWorks, the parent company, owns a family of nationwide businesses, including Coinmach Corp., Mac-Gray, ASI Campus Laundry Solutions, Sparkle Solutions Corp., Appliance Warehouse of America, AIR-Serv, AirValet, Service Directions Inc. and Super Laundry.

A Necessary Amenity

It’s a necessary amenity, according to David Kule of ACES Laundry Service in Hartsdale, and that is why “a lot of new buildings have washers and dryers built into the apartments.” And, he adds, “Even where it’s prohibited, we’ve found people put them in anyway.” Unfortunately, these less-than-legit installations—often done by the resident themselves—can lead to huge problems if a hose or washer leaks and causes damage to adjoining units.

While it’s true that new construction touts space for individual laundry amenities, community laundry facilities still are still the norm in older co-ops and condominium complexes, as well as newer condominiums, which have been converted from apartment buildings where the plumbing will not allow for in-unit machines. Gone, however, are the days of dim and dingy laundry rooms located in a basement that no one really wanted to visit.

“Years ago, I’d walk into a laundry room and it would be dark and had probably 10-year-old paint. They were dungeons,” says Mark Eisler, vice president of sales for Hercules Corp. in Hicksville. “Today, they’re well-lighted, have nice-looking equipment, tile floors, new lighting. They’re really an amenity. It’s a whole different beast. When co-ops came into play, people really started to take an interest in the buildings. They wanted the laundry room to look as nice as the lobby. It’s a quality-of-life issue.”

Daniel Scharfman of ACES Laundry Service agrees. “We look at buildings all the time, and we find that if you do it right, it’s an amenity; it really makes your building better,” he says. As part of the company’s service, “We’re willing to build out rooms … repaint, maybe put in new windows, LED lighting, to make them nicer.” And, Kule adds, those efforts are also done with an eye to improving energy efficiency.

Forget the Quarters

In fact, community laundry as we know it has changed dramatically for residents of many multifamily co-op and condo buildings. Some these days are going really high-tech, with laundry rooms that do everything except put your clothes in the machine and fold them when they’re done.

For example, you won’t see residents lugging bags or cans of quarters along with their clothes as they head to the laundry room today. “We’re using debit and credit cards,” Scharfman says. “It really makes life easier. People are used to using their cards, they like it, and it’s simple.” Each machine, he explains, has a card reader. Users can simply swipe their credit or debit card just as they do with any other purchase.
“Quarters,” Eisler agrees, “are history. It’s like a black-and-white television.” In the “old days” of coin-op machines, he says, “there were so many service calls because of jammed coin slides, and people trying to use different currencies, or ‘slugs,’ to beat the system.” His company uses coded value cards that customers can load from their debit…


Lessons from Super Storm Sandy

Lessons from Super Storm Sandy

Issues Facing Cooperative and Condominium Boards and Managers

By Adam Leitman

Most buildings in flood zone areas already maintained flood insurance as a result of lender requirements and therefore were covered by Sandy. The biggest surprise was those persons who use their homes as home offices or the building rents out office space and maintained business interruption insurance only to find out that business insurance only kicks in only when involving a covered peril such as a direct hit from a flood. For example, a unit owner is without utilities for several weeks and cannot work. Because the unit owner’s office is high in the sky it never occurred to him or her to obtain any insurance beyond the basics. During and after Sandy, most insurance companies denied any coverage as a result of the loss of utilities as business interruption insurance requires that a direct hit or covered event before business interruption applies. So those that lost their utilities because the utility companies’ lines were cut before the storm were out of luck.

Learning from the hundreds of buildings we counseled, it turns out that insurers have many extremely inexpensive or free riders to the policy to cover the next calamity. One such example is anti-concurrent-causation coverage. If wind and water hit the building at the same time and only wind is covered by the policy, anti-concurrent-causation coverage will allow coverage even if the water could have caused the damage as well as the wind.

Although none of these cases directly involve cooperatives or condominiums, there are, in total, five reported real estate decisions that have come down in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, two of them landlord-tenant, one of them regarding negligence liability for a fallen crane, one for utility liability for failed power, and one for construction of an insurance policy. Additionally there are some seven complaints on file, six of them construing insurance policies and one suing a landlord for alleged negligence. These suits, both completed and pending, can provide useful instruction for the kinds of actions a building owner must take to prepare for the next natural or civil disaster to afflict New York City. It’s useful for landlords and building owners to consider these issues because of the nature of storm damage.

In Maiden Lane Properties v. Just Salad Partners, the tenant sought to have the rent abated by reason of “constructive eviction,” a situation in which the landlord’s upkeep of the premises is so badly performed that the tenant is compelled to abandon all or part of the premises. Key to the concept of constructive eviction, however, is fault on the part of the landlord. Mere happenstance is not fault. In Barash v. Pennsylvania Terminal Real Estate Corp., the Court of Appeals set the standard for constructive eviction, writing, “On the other hand, constructive eviction exists where, although there has been no physical expulsion or exclusion of the tenant, the landlord’s wrongful acts substantially and materially deprive the tenant of the beneficial use and enjoyment of the premises.”

Thus, for a tenant to claim constructive eviction, mere casualty to the premises is insufficient. There must also be proof of the landlord’s wrongful acts. Thus, the Just Salad court saw no need even to mention constructive eviction in its decision.

Reasonable Preparation for Storm by Property Owner

While there have been no Sandy-related decisions that have come down on what a building owner should do to prepare for a storm, one complaint that has been filed shows the kind of claims that landlords have to face on the subject.

In Manfra, Tordella & Brookes, Inc. v. 90 Broad Owner, LLC, Plaintiff-tenant’s theory is that the landlord was liable for neglecting to take supposedly reasonable precautions against flooding caused by Superstorm Sandy such as window boarding and sandbagging.

Among the allegations of…

NYREJ:Awards Milio as Executive of the Month

NYREJ:Executive of the Month

Executive of the Month: Milio, founder of Trion Real Estate Management: “Building” client relationships with a hands-on approach

Yonkers, NY Trion Real Estate Management’s success was built on a “bricks-and-mortar” philosophy started by Carmelo Milio when he entered his family real estate business. Milio’s hands-on approach to working with each of his clients is deeply rooted in a foundation based on work ethics, hands-on management and a sense of pride in each and every property under management.

“I enjoy working alongside our maintenance and accounting teams to ensure that all of our properties are managed most effectively and with the greatest degree of success. For over 35 years, our hands-on approach and overall cost-saving strategies regarding everything from minor maintenance issues to major capital improvements, stem from the years I spent performing maintenance tasks such as demolition, painting, light plumbing and electric. I am thankful and grateful to those who have allowed me to build knowledge through hands-on experience in the various areas of property management,” said Milio.

Milio is the president and director of property management at Trion, a tri-state area leader in full-service property management, formerly called Milio Realty Corp. Trion is celebrating its 35th Anniversary with an overall company expansion and rebranding effort.

“The timing for our expansion and rebranding is perfect – this is our 35th anniversary year and an opportunity for us to emphasize our commitment to delivering exceptional customer service and building strong relationships with our clients,” said Milio. “We’re all very excited at Trion about this new chapter and the expansion of our company, which is no longer a ‘small family business.’ We now have a top-notch staff comprised of New York real estate professionals and Trion’s portfolio now includes more than 1,500 co-op, condo and rental units throughout N.Y.C. and the tri-state area.”

Milio reports that all of Trion’s managers, who are each required to personally visit properties at least twice per week, have been educated, both in the field and within Trion’s intensive on-site training program. Trion’s managers hold special designations including Accredited Residential Manager and Certified Property Manager from the Institute of Real Estate Management.

Trion’s portfolio has increased 50% since 2008, rising above the economic challenges of the recession era. Milio said that he was able to achieve this “throughout these six years by implementing ways to decrease expenses and to increase revenue at various types of properties. In several cases, we were able to turn around buildings that were facing catastrophic financial and physical ramifications from mismanagement.”

Milio created Trion’s tagline: “Trusted. Responsive. Invested. Always ON-Call to emphasize the company’s focus on client partnerships and hands-on customer service.”

“For 35 years, we’ve guaranteed our clients and residents complete peace of mind through superior customer service and communications efforts – and our goal is to go above and beyond what we’ve accomplished already. All of our clients are guaranteed to receive the greatest savings and the most efficient services possible via our up-to-date, cutting-edge technology combined with the hands-on expertise of multiple generations of real estate professionals,” Milio said.

Milio reports that the key to effective property management is Trion’s tried-and-true strategy of “hitting the ground running on day one” of the management transition process.

Milio said, “Over the years we’ve had many success stories and we realized that they are due, in part, to the policies and strategies that we implement to increase the NOI of each building we take on. Therefore, we decided to roll out a unique offer – one that was never before advertised by any other management company to date. Trion offers a guarantee that if we do not…

State of Surveillance Privacy vs. Security

State of Surveillance
Privacy vs. Security
By Greg Olear Article Options

The drop in crime in New York in the last 40 years has been nothing short of miraculous. In the 1970s, the city’s obvious danger was notorious. Muggings were commonplace. Subway cars rolled along the tracks tagged in graffiti and ugly fluorescent spray paint. The murder rate was staggering. Mayor John V. Lindsay, well-intentioned but in over his head, walked the city as if in a daze, and if some enterprising vandal ran up and tagged the back of his suit, no one would have been surprised.

Twenty years later, the situation had improved somewhat, but the criminals were still winning the war. Vast sections of Manhattan were notoriously unsafe at night, to say nothing of the rough-and-tumble outer boroughs. Alphabet City was widely considered a wasteland, neighborhood parents warned their kids not to ever enter there.

In 1991, the city actually closed down Tompkins Square Park because the drug use and attendant crime had become so pervasive. Even 42nd Street, a thoroughfare that was a bona fide Broadway tourist destination, was more renowned for prostitution and peepshows than the long-running show Cats.

Then along came tough knuckle prosecutor Rudy Giuliani, who was elected mayor in 1994, and began an effort to clean up the city. Whether the credit is due to him, his chief of police, the booming real estate market, or all three, New York underwent a radical transformation under his watch that continued with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “New York is the safest big city in the nation, and our crime reductions have been steeper than any other big city’s,” Bloomberg boasted recently. We can look to the FBI’s crime statistics and find that yes, this is borne out—the murder rate, the property crime rate, the assault rate, all of it is the lowest per capita of any city in the country.

The proof is in the real estate market. Critics may lament the “Disneyfication” of Times Square and the Theater District, but there’s no question that it’s safer. Tompkins Square Park has been appropriated by little children and friendly dogs. Fancy restaurants line the cobblestone streets of the Meatpacking District. Hell’s Kitchen, Harlem, Morningside Heights, Alphabet City—all are thriving. Even Bedford Stuyvesant—Bed Stuy—has become a fashionable place to live.

But safety and security does come with a price. We hear a lot these days about the sacrifices and compromises necessary to ensure a reasonable level of personal safety—at airports, sporting events, and other venues; we’re subjected to pat-downs and bag searches that a decade ago would have been seen as invasive and excessive. The same goes for multifamily residential buildings. But where does vigilant security turn into overzealous (and possibly illegal) surveillance? What can boards do to monitor their buildings and hopefully reduce crime and wrongdoing without invading the privacy of residents?

Security and Privacy
Real estate in New York, and particularly in Manhattan, is among the most expensive in the country. Those fortunate enough to own such real estate have a vested interest in protecting their investment. And even tenants of sublets at less desirable addresses tend to prefer a secure building than a free-for-all. What this means is that boards are almost uniformly pro-security—sometimes at the expense of privacy.

“Most people who live in a residential building want to make sure strange people aren’t wandering about,” explains David Berkey, a partner with the Manhattan-based law firm of Gallet Dreyer & Berkey LLP.

Once a visitor is admitted into a building, “you can’t tell if someone who is in the building really does go to where they’re supposed to go,” he says. Once his business is done, what stops the subcontracted cable installation guy from casing the joint? The most salient example of this is the preponderance of menus from Chinese restaurants. Time was, these colorful pieces of paper were…

Pets, Pools & Pilates-New Amenities

Pets, Pools & Pilates
New Amenities Add Pizazz to Today’s Properties

By Lisa Iannucci Article Options

Years ago, when you bought a co-op or condo apartment, you looked for a unit that had the right number of bedrooms and bathrooms, a perfectly-sized kitchen, and some great living space. For the longest time, that ideal combination was all an apartment needed to attract a buyer to a particular building or association. As property values increased, and as developers built more and more new multifamily developments however, they needed a way to draw homebuyers away from one building and over to theirs. And so began a battle of the multifamily Joneses. Building A had the state-of-the-art gym, so Building B added a gym and a movie screening room. Building C added all of that and then some, including a private personal trainer on-call at nearly any hour of the day.

Amenities Arms Race
How common is this tale of dueling amenities? Common enough that last April, Forbes magazine featured an article on condo amenities one-upmanship and how it’s fueling sales in high-end high-rises across many urban markets. Author Beth Weinberg explained that the newest lure for high-rise residents in New York City is a built-in supermarket. She reported that six specialty food stores had opened in the city within the year in mixed-use residential/commercial spaces. And the trend is hardly exclusive to Gotham; in just one example, a 100-unit condominium and loft development in Vancouver shares space with a Choices Market.

“Buyers are hungry for the most comprehensive amenities ever seen in New York condominiums,” says Beth Stern, a senior sales director with the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group. “Likewise, developers want to distinguish their projects with unique amenity spaces and best-in-class services,” she says. For example, at the new Halcyon condo building on East 51st Street, HFZ Capital Group made the decision to move the building amenities all the way to the 21st and 22nd floors, which could have been valuable residential real estate. “However, they felt that offering amenities with spectacular views, bathed in light, would ultimately create tremendous value. In particular, the Sky Lounge, Aqua Spa, 52-foot lap pool, fitness center, and Movement Studio feature floor-to-ceiling windows.”

The market’s emergence from the recent recession hasn’t changed the development of amenities either, just the final product. “Amenities help in both good and bad markets,” says Stern. “In the most recent real estate cycle, we are seeing developers think differently about the type of amenities they are offering. It isn’t necessarily about more, it’s about creating thoughtful multi-use amenities that are both efficient and provide versatile spaces for residents to do anything from yoga to host a formal dinner party.”

Jacky Teplitzky, a licensed associate real estate broker in New York and Florida with Douglas Elliman, has been in the business for 17 years and remembers when the most luxurious amenity that a building could offer was a concierge. “Whether or not the building had a doorman was the only thing that was really asked about,” she says. “Today, especially with new construction, you have to differentiate yourself—but what you offer depends on the target market for your building. If it’s families, the amenity will be a children’s playroom. If it’s yuppies, it will be WiFi or an outdoor theater.”

These days, catering to fitness enthusiasts is a high priority among developers. For example, Stephen Alton, founder and principal of Stephen Alton Architect, P.C. in New York City says that the Chelsea Landmark building, located at 55 West 25th Street, is a great example of how golf simulators are being incorporated into luxury spaces. Buildings at 25 Broad at the Exchange, Arias Park Slope and The Aldyn also offer golf simulators. The Victory at 561 Tenth Avenue takes it one step further and offers a driving range and a three-hole putting green….

Westchester Rent Guidelines Board holds Hearings

Westchester Rent Guidelines Board holds hearings on hikes

The Westchester County Rent Guidelines Board will hold public hearings in the next two weeks before setting rent increases for regulated apartments for leases expiring in the year starting Oct. 1.

The hearings, all at 7 p.m., will be Monday at Mount Vernon City Hall, 1 Roosevelt Square; Tuesday at the Yonkers Riverfront Library, 1 Larkin Center; and June 9 at the Westchester County Courthouse, 111 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., White Plains.

A meeting to discuss the guidelines will be June 16 at 7 p.m. at the courthouse and the board is expected to vote at a meeting on June 23 at 7 p.m., also at the courthouse.

The Guidelines Board sets maximum rent increases for about 30,000 apartments regulated under the Emergency Tenant Protection Act, which generally covers larger buildings built before 1974 in municipalities that have opted in. Last year’s rates were 3 percent for one-year leases and 4 percent for two-year leases, with minimum increases of $15 and $20, respectively

Trion Management named New Managing Agent

Trion Management named Managing Agent for Harlem’s Newly Constructed Luxury Condo!

Trion Real Estate Management has been named the new managing agent for Nicholas Condominium, a newly-constructed luxury building located on St. Nicholas Avenue, in the heart of Harlem. This sought-after property consists of one- and two-bedroom luxury units.

“Our emphasis at Trion is always on ‘hitting the ground running on day one’ – and that is what we have already done for the Nicholas Condominium,” said Carmelo Milio, CPM, president of Trion Real Estate Management. “We have already renegotiated the building’s insurance policy and therefore, lowered the premium by 20 percent, which covers the cost of painting the building’s lobby. And, we’re implementing other cost-saving methods to run the property more efficiently including renegotiating additional onsite service contracts.”

He added, “This type of sophisticated, luxury property is highly coveted here in Harlem and our aim is for the Nicholas Condominium to become the premier luxury building in this community.”