A ½ inch thick Central Park Offering Circular was part of Crescent’s 1996 marketing materials. Near the end of the booklet is found a Residential Property Condition Disclosure Statement Form with three exhibits which includes assessments of the then current condition of the property’s mechanical systems and structural integrity in 1996. It was the proverbial “fine print” many tend to ignore even when making major purchase decisions.
The conclusions of the inspection reports revealed the structures to be sound but found the aging mechanical systems were near the end of life, having experienced few upgrades to the HVAC, elevators, plumbing and electrical systems over the years.
So, while the developers were clearly aware of the impending need for major investments to renovate and rehabilitate those mechanical systems, they elected to “sell the sizzle, not the steak.” In other words, they invested in spit-shinning the common areas, but left the nuts and bolts for the homeowner’s association to deal with after they left town.
In addition, infighting developed between resident owners and absentee multi-unit investors who determined their interests were not aligned, further exacerbating the challenges. And an ill-conceived governance structure that required the election of a new Board every 12 months, impaired the preservation of an institutional memory, threatening plans that couldn’t be implemented during a one-year term.
For the next twenty years, the Central Park Owners Association Board’s struggled but failed to address the massive amount of deferred maintenance, preferring instead to keep monthly dues as low as possible, leaving future boards to deal with the consequences.
Looking back, it was a rather grim prospect facing the naïve group of new condominium owners who appeared unprepared or unwilling to raise the capital needed for renovations. It’s a tale filled with dramatic highs and epic lows that were driven by the lack of a common vision for the future of the community. Thankfully, the story has a happy ending.