By Anessa V. Cohen

Renovation and updating have always been a part of the life of a homeowner, particularly in this neighborhood. Hardly a day goes by when a new contractor sign, demo container, or draped tarps aren’t seen on one house or another starting a new project to update, renovate, or re-create a new version of the “future.”

So why, then, if we have become so enamored with making sure that our homes are up to date with the latest amenities and upgrades, have we not pushed the owners and managers of the many co-op and condo buildings dotting the Five Towns to also bring those buildings to a standard that homeowners expect? Apartment buyers feel like they are settling for amenities going back in time to the 1950s.

Some upgrades in many of these buildings are long overdue. Obviously the main reason they have never been attempted is that the board members or management teams of these complexes never wanted to deal with the cost or the construction undertaking that would be necessary to bring these buildings closer to 21st-century values.

Most of the buildings in our Five Towns are two-floor garden complex buildings with access to the second-floor apartments available only by climbing a flight of stairs. These second-floor apartments have become difficult resales, solely due to lack of elevator access.

With today’s technology, there are many creative ways of adding small elevators to those buildings–allowing better access to those second floors so that the buyer pool for apartments needing those elevators, such as elderly or handicapped buyers or young families needing access for carriages, could be accommodated and use those second-floor units.

One of the easiest changes, which should have been effected years ago, is for the buildings presently not allowing washers/dryers in the apartments. The existence of laundry facilities in the basements of those buildings doesn’t change the fact that people moving to this neighborhood or downsizing expect the convenience of a washer/dryer in their apartment. Not allowing this is taking away from the value and desirability of those complexes as well.

This especially holds true in the more luxurious buildings. Even with a doorman and amenities such as a swimming pool and laundry rooms on each floor, they do not seem to get the concept that people buying luxury units also expect to have the convenience of being allowed to put washers/dryers in their apartments–or it is no longer a luxury accommodation.

Last but not least, the parking facilities in many of these buildings are cumbersome and really not user-friendly. When co-op owners are choosing to take permit parking on the street rather than dealing with the steep flights of steps down and up from the parking basement, this sends a strong message that is being ignored. Either the complexes must install gently sloping ramps, with roof covers for the apartment owners to have the ability to walk comfortably to the basement parking garages, or they should invest in elevator systems that would allow residents to easily go up and down to these parking garages without worrying about carrying packages or luggage, wheeling a carriage, etc. This is not the way life should be lived as a co-op or condo owner in the 21st century, and it certainly is not what residents of the Five Towns are used to.

If the boards or management companies of these facilities were more forward-thinking in bringing all these buildings up to date, the individual apartments would rise in value accordingly based on these additional conveniences, and the problem of buyers not wanting second-floor apartments would also disappear. Something to think about–and for those of you who live in these buildings to bring up at your next co-op owners’ meeting!

Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker and a licensed N.Y.S. mortgage broker with over 20 years of experience, offering full-service residential and commercial real-estate services (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and mortgaging services (First Meridian Mortgage) in the Five Towns and throughout the tri-state area. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to



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