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How Do We Get This 25-Ton Beast Up on the Roof?

Some capital projects are prosaic and predictable. And then there are capital projects like the one now underway at the 138-unit Pierpointe on Hudson Condominium in Yonkers – a project that comes with more moving parts than a Swiss watch. What turned out to be a convoluted challenge began when the rooftop HVAC system that heats and cools the century-old building’s common areas began to falter. 

“Our system was old and worn out, and it wasn’t functioning properly,” says Frank Monica, the board treasurer. “We had it looked at by three contractors, and the common assessment was that it could not be repaired. It had to be replaced.”

Which brings us to the moving parts. The Pierpointe is flanked by the Hudson River to the west and Metro-North Railroad tracks to the east. Once the board had decided to buy a 25-ton Trane heating and cooling unit for $110,000, the next step was to figure out how to get the old unit down from the roof and the new one up there. This meant not only getting electrical and plumbing permits from the City of Yonkers but also hiring a crane operator and figuring out how to deploy the crane without blocking vehicle traffic or endangering the Metro-North tracks. 

“Now we’re in the process of dealing with the MTA – who will grant permission to operate only so close to the railroad tracks – plus the Yonkers Department of Buildings (DOB), the engineer, and the rigger,” says Kathryn Deshong, who has managed the riverfront property for the past three years for the Ferrara Management Group. “A project like this has a lot of moving parts – and a long time frame. “This is not the type of job that can happen quickly. For example, Yonkers is not allowing us to close off the street, so we’re going to have to place the crane in a certain way so that vehicle traffic can get through. And while the majority of our plans were approved by the DOB, we need to make some minor changes. I have to follow up with the DOB when I don’t hear anything.” 

The board is paying for the project through a five-month assessment. While assessments are never welcomed by condo unit-owners, this was a case where there was little room for argument. During the sweltering peak of last summer, the air-conditioning failed. “The board came to the realization,” Deshong says, “that it was too darn hot.” Few in the building disagreed. 

“There’s always an uproar when there’s an assessment,” Deshong adds. “However, since everyone was uncomfortable, most people saw the need for it.” 

Monica, the board treasurer, adds, “The unit-owners and the board knew it had to be done.” 

The new heating and cooling unit has already been purchased. Since the installation will take only a few days, the board is optimistic that the new system will be up and running long before the next wave of hot summer weather. 

For other boards facing a Swiss watch of a capital project like this one, Monica offers some advice: “I think the best thing to do is to get the facts together. Make sure you’ve got three different professionals telling you the same thing. Then you go with the best one.” He also offers a prediction: “When this is finished, people will be happy.”

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