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Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

HABITAT

ARCHIVE ARTICLE

Planning for the Future

Larry Hohlt, board president, 40-50 East 10th Street, Manhattan.

My wife and I lived in a house in Brooklyn Heights for almost 30 years before moving to 40-50 East 10th Street nearly 12 years ago. We’ve never regretted it. It’s a great building, with a wide range of residents: doctors, lawyers, professors, museum curators, playwrights, business people, retirees, young people, and even a composer. Plus a healthy assortment of children. What’s the appeal? Old-world charm and new-world amenities: two private gardens and a cardiovascular exercise room. It is also walking distance to both the East and West Village.

To keep the property sound and attractive, two years ago the board created a 10-year capital plan. We secured funding – the co-op refinanced its mortgage, taking out a $7.55 million loan – and we also have a flip tax of three percent of the gross selling price to supplement the property’s income.

Our first major project was the complete overhaul and refurbishment of our three passenger elevators. Then, our periodic Local Law 11 work was done over the summer and into the fall of 2012. This turned out to require more time and attention than we had envisioned (hoped), -in yet another example of the impact of climate change: how many “storms of the century” can one have in just a couple of years?

At any rate, we did what we think was an extraordinarily thorough and meticulous job, taking the opportunity to also “repair” a number of façade features, clean the lower portions, etc. We then undertook the conversion of our heating system from oil exclusively to use of a dual burner, and we are now reaping considerable savings through our current use of natural gas.

We also decided to do our roof replacement a year or two before we intended, and that project was done in part at the same time as the Local Law 11 work, but it also extended out beyond the Local Law 11 completion. In doing the roof, we discovered, alas, that a number of issues that relate back to the manner in which the building was constructed in 1929-31 required unanticipated attention. That caused this project’s length to extend beyond our expectations and its cost to do so as well. So it goes.

Because we wanted both the Local Law 11 and the roof project to be completed before we did our front sidewalk project (which also involves addressing all of the “original” wrought ironwork along most of our façade), we found that we would not be able to start and complete the sidewalk project last year before the cold weather would set in. We understand that the ideal time to do sidewalks is when they have a long spell of warm/hot weather to “cure.” So, that project is now scheduled to start sometime this spring; the proposal is out for bids.

We also recently completed the conversion of some woefully used space into a new bright and light employees’ room (with a spiffy new bathroom/shower), and the old employees’ room will now be converted into a new office for our wonderful superintendent. It also will be available for use by the board, especially helpful when we have large plans to look at (we have traditionally held our meetings in one another’s apartments, which is a pleasant custom).

The backyard erosion issues, fortunately, have stabilized. Through various explorations and analysis, we concluded that the source of this was a ruptured underground drain pipe, which is now fixed. We still have work to do back there (some old buckling sidewalk issues, some “landfill,” etc.), but we have now put this project off for a year, possibly two, mostly to try and avoid having the entire building and outdoor areas seem like nothing but a continuous construction project.

Once the front sidewalk is completed – in early summer, hopefully, or late summer at worst – we will turn our attention to what I call the “re-do” of the lobby, the first-floor hallways and mail rooms, and all of the landings on the upper nine floors (we have three elevator banks, so this is a total of 27 landings).

Planning is already under way, but it is still very much in the formative stage. We are going to use this opportunity to address our antiquated and cranky intercom system, the introduction of FiOS and other cable modernization, and the replacement, including use of LED on the upper floors, of our lighting. This project will take much planning, and it is our intention to have it ready to start shortly after the beginning of 2014.

My advice to others: if you’re planning on doing something like this type of program, you should get different perspectives, try to get objective advice, and then move forward.

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