Category Archives: Apartment Living

FGC Nearing 30 and Still Going Strong

FGC Co-op President LaDora Brock

Although the buildings were erected in 1955, Florian Gardens did not become a tenant-owned property until May 1989. As the property is nearing its 30th year as a co-op, the estate which sold for $550,000 is now worth millions.

To convert or not to convert. For several months, the board of directors has been discussing with management the feasibility of converting FGC from a low-equity to a market-rate co-op. Purportedly, the primary benefit of a conversion would be the equity return. While the profit from selling a unit under market-rate would far exceed the return residents now receive when they vacate, the possibility of suddenly incurring a monthly carrying charge that is significantly higher than what is currently being paid to achieve that result is unappealing to many members. Residents who were with FGC from the beginning will tell you that the purpose of purchasing and converting the Florian Gardens complex was to preserve affordable housing for themselves and other District residents.

At a special meeting on Tuesday, October 11, 2016, members got the opportunity to weigh in on the discussion. Although there was less than 100 percent representation by the membership, the turnout was impressive.

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A Joint Effort

Marijuana Blowing Smoke Cartoon CharacterAn article in the January issue of The Cooperator  recently stated: “Cooperate apartment corporations often confront situations where a particular shareholder’s behavior is offensive to others in the building.” Truer words have not been spoken and FGC is no exception.

Even before the District legalized marijuana in February 2015, FGC’s board was receiving complaints from some co-op members about the smell of marijuana. Reportedly, it was often prevalent in the hallway on certain floors and seeping into their unit. When the city made it lawful for DC residents to possess and use limited amounts of marijuana, it created an additional revenue source for the city and satisfied the appetite of potheads, but it also added to the problem for non-smoking residents living in multi-family housing. Adamant non-smokers object to inhaling any second-hand smoke, including weed. This presents a dilemma for a board that tries to appease disgruntled non-smoker shareholders without infringing on the rights of potheads, er, smokers in general.

The governing documents of cooperative apartments and condos typically contain provisions that prohibit disruptive and illegal conduct by a shareholder. These documents usually allow for termination of a shareholder’s membership for unacceptable behavior. But when the original documents do not contain a non-smoking policy, adding one could be like finding a sophisticated supporter at a Trump rally.

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FGC Welcomes the New Year

NY 2016 -J

‘Twas the night before Christmas. The temperature outside was 64 degrees, but inside the old buildings where units lack controllable thermostats and cooks were busy preparing side dishes for the next day’s meal, it was hot as h#*l. The uncommonly warm December weather forced many residents to run their air conditioners. Ahhh!

But wouldn’t you know it, someone was not feeling the holiday spirit. A grinch stole one of the packages left by UPS in Building ’28. Another (or perhaps the same grinch) vandalized one of the Christmas ornaments in the lobby. It’s too bad that some people are so miserable in their life that they could care less about spoiling the joy for everyone else.

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FGC Getting a Face-lift

Three_Surveillance_camerasIf there is truth to the timeworn cliche that says “All good things must come to an end” then the reality is that Florian Gardens has seen better days.

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned how our cooperative has changed over the last decade. Most of our members, especially the long-timers who have been here since the beginning, are law-abiding citizens, and we all maintain camaraderie. But some — and I emphasize some — of the newer members do not display that neighborliness. What’s worse they are bringing in people to stay with them who exhibit the kind of unacceptable behavior that ruins communities and lowers property values. For example, last week the police were called three times to the same building for disturbances created by someone staying with a member.

While the board of directors does its best to screen applicants and accept into membership those who we feel will reflect positively on our community and respect our property, there is only so much that can be done without the cooperation of all residents. Background checks, police reports, and references from employers and former landlords may help validate the character of potential members, but unfortunately, even the most vigilant effort is not foolproof.

Formerly, FGC was a place where nearly everyone knew everyone else. We especially knew the people living within our building, but that is no longer the case. Unfortunately, some of the unauthorized tenants show blatant disregard for the co-op by ignoring the rules. And while landlord-tenant court makes it difficult – but not impossible – to remove members who are continuously behind on their carrying charges, the board will pursue every legal recourse against residents who disregard parking, sub-leasing, and other regulations. Our mission is to ensure that co-op rules are enforced and that our property values do not decreased due to negligence and criminal activity.

In the coming months, several significant improvements will be made or are already underway to improve the appearance and security of our property. Some of those changes are:

  • New reflective signs will be installed to replace the old signage on each building and elsewhere.

  • Exterior lighting will be improved and increased throughout the property including in the driveway, parking/dumpster area, and near the gate

  • A cameras surveillance system will be installed on the property with cameras strategically placed at each lobby door, in the laundry rooms and where needed

  • Emergency LED lights will replace existing incandescent exit and emergency light fixtures in each building

  • Comcast will fix the cable boxes on all three buildings and (hopefully) will eliminate the exposed wiring that hangs outside the boxes

  • Larger trash dumpsters will replace the existing dumpsters and the dumpster area will be revamped

  • A wrought iron fence, similar to the one on 9th Street will be installed to border the parking area

  • The parking area will be repaved

  • A new roof was installed on ’28 and new downspouts are soon to follow

  • Laundry rooms will also receive a facelift


The Meters Are Coming! The Meters Are Coming!

Parking Meter

“The meters are coming!” That’s probably how Paul Revere would have shouted it, but I’ll just say, “Listen up. Parking meters are coming to a street near us.”

First Georgia Avenue and now Peabody Street. Don’t make me dig out my notes, but as I recall, at one of the numerous meetings that Walmart and city officials held with neighborhood residents, prior to the opening of the store, we were told that there would be several free parking spaces on the south side of Peabody Street adjacent to Walmart.  Well, that may have been true when Walmart opened its Georgia Avenue store seven months ago, but guess what. Parking meters are being installed in front of each of those “free” spaces. Perhaps that move, obviously intended to bring the city additional revenue, will force customers who prefer street side parking to utilize Walmart’s underground parking garage.

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It’s spring cleaning time and the FGC board has been working with a legal counsel to update some of the co-op’s outdated governing documents. Meanwhile, out in FGC’s parking lot, some uncooperative members continue to violate parking regulations. With the average cost of one and two BR units in DC ranging from $1000 to $1500 and up, one would think that all FGC members would follow the co-op rules and do your part to facilitate the effort of board members who strive to run an efficient operation. If you think no one is keeping track – think again. If you are one of the people who believes that rules and regulations apply to everyone else, consider the following quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are.”


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