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Co-op Owners Now Have Their Own Social Networking Site

By Emily Frost | January 15, 2014 6:47am
 The Ansonia was the first building to use "My Coop," the new social networking site for buildings. 
The Ansonia was the first building to use "My Coop," the new social networking site for buildings. 
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Flickr/Jeffrey Zeldman

UPPER WEST SIDE — LinkedIn is the site for job-hunters, OKCupid is for singles looking for love and now a new website is catering to New York City's co-op dwellers.

My Coop, an exclusive website devoted to people who live in NYC's co-op buildings, includes 91 buildings — and counting — on a social networking site with landing pages for tony buildings including the historic Ansonia.

The site was founded last year by advertising executive Alex Norman in a bid to encourage new residents and older residents to interact more, and to communicate online rather than via fliers posted in building lobbies.

"A lot of buildings in New York City share this [problem] — that there really isn’t a medium for residents to communicate with each other," said Norman, 41, who lived in a Chelsea co-op for the better part of the past decade and now rents in Hell's Kitchen.

Norman said the site — with a name that's a reference to a chicken coop, which he said reminds him of a shared nesting place vets members by checking their phone numbers to see if their billing address makes them eligible to use the site.

He said he hopes My Coop will offer more than just opportunities for shared Super Bowl parties, childcare, early morning runs or potluck meals. He wants it to become a forum for solving individual buildings' problems together. 

Ansonia resident Adelheid Christian, 46, said she saw My Coop as "a political tool," to rally neighbors around improved maintenance. She's using it to draw her neighbors to tenant planning meetings.

"The Ansonia is a building that has many troubles…[but] we can hardly communicate. Basically we are all on our own," Christian said, adding that her building was the first user of My Coop.

The site helped residents unite to push for changes from building management, such as better maintenance for common areas, she said.

"The management just fixes things cheaply. We want to keep a little bit of the old splendor," Christian said. 

The resident also said she uses the site to sell odds and ends from her apartment, a task that previously required creating and posting fliers. 

Norman said he anticipated pushback from landlords and building managers who might want to control how much residents can organize around collective demands, so he made sure that each landing page, which is unique for each building, can be created by tenants without anyone policing it.

In the next two months, Norman hopes to monetize My Coop by creating subscriptions for landlords who want to interact and communicate with tenants. 

He said he also plans to add branding opportunities and ads from home goods sellers like Ikea and Home Depot.

The possibilities for neighborly collaboration are endless, Norman said

"A lot of New Yorkers initially balk at the idea of talking to their neighbors, but when you get into the things that they’d want, then they want it," he said.