Council Postpones Condo Discussions

Former Tenants Seek Exemption

Another group of new condo owners seeking exemption from Cambridge's tough anti-condominium conversion ordinances came to city hall last night, but the city council postponed discussion of the case for at least two weeks.

Councilor Walter Sullivan had sponsored a motion that would allow the condo owners--who until this summer rented their apartments on Linnean St. and Washington Ave.--to bypass a set of city ordinances designed to prevent the removal of housing from the rental market for conversion to condominiums.

Developer David Zussman bought the 106 units at 36-42 Linnean St. and 4-6 Washington Ave. in July, one month before an ordinance that would have required him to seek city permission for his planned total conversion took effect.

Since then 86 tenants have purchased their rental units and another 20 have been sold to investors, who are now reselling the apartments as condominiums on the open market, Cecile D. Pelletier, an employee of Zussman's "Condominiums Inc.," said yesterday.

At least 28 of the tenants who have purchased their apartments are required by city ordinance to seek removal permits from the Rent Control Board. Without the permits, the new condo owners must either rent or sell their former apartments to a third party.

The rent control board is currently considering the owners' petition, and expects to reach a decision by November 20. But the owners have said that a November Jecision, even if it is favorable, will come too late to arrange for the necessary financing, which is being provided by Zussman.

Walter Sullivan's motion sought to exempt the condo owners from the complicated rent control guidelines. But Councilor David Sullivan, a strong supporter of the anti-conversion ordinances, said last night that the council might not have the power, without amending the ordinances themselves, to suspend the rent control board examination process.

"We didn't move in looking to become condominium owners," Valerie Zumber, who has lived at 42 Linnean St. for more than a year, said last night. "But the entire building is already converted into condominiums, and it's just a question of whether it will be maintained by the people who live here, or by people who live outside the city and don't care" about keeping the housing in good condition.