Is the Manhattan Co-op An Endangered Species?

In fact, condos outsold co-ops in the first half of 2006 in Manhattan—a notable feat, considering that more than 75 percent of the borough’s for-sale housing is co-op. In the first quarter of 2007, according to Miller Samuel, 1,771 co-ops traded hands to 1,703 condos—a near dead heat, all things considered.

A lot of the newer condos have sprung from conversions of rental buildings. But even rentals remain a generally more appealing moneymaker for landlords than turning a building co-op; many Manhattan neighborhoods now command their highest rents ever.

“At this time, you find that vacant apartments can be rented at fair-market rents that are not stabilized,” said Arthur Weinstein, a Manhattan attorney who has been involved in residential conversions since the 1970’s. “Many landlords in the 1980’s went co-op just to take their apartments out of rent control or rent stabilization.”

The likelihood is slim that Manhattan will soon see again a co-op creation boom on a par with that of the late 1980’s. Condos remain the for-sale housing development of choice among developers, lenders and marketers; and even newer rentals have crept onto the scene.

Co-ops, not so much: The only co-op approved by the state this year in Manhattan—at 319-321 West 14th Street—has three units total.