Does any single thing jump out as your proudest achievement from your service on the board?
This was a beautiful, almost boutique rental building that had been allowed to run down because of rent control and rent stabilization. The old owner, whose father was the original developer, just let it kind of go to seed. We’ve restored the building as much as possible back to original condition in terms of all the wrought- iron work, the ceiling murals in the lobby, the marble and travertine flooring. And we turned it into a modern, functioning building — modern in terms of updates, not looks. And that’s not a cheap process.
What were some of the bigger expenses?
We wound up having to replace every inch of gas line in the entire building due to that explosion on Second Avenue a couple years back. The subcontractors who inspected the smart meters ran gas-leak tests. There was no way of chasing all the leaks here and there, so we gutted and replaced it all, and then we brought in a painting restoration contractor, who went through the place and brought it all back. When you need to do big repairs like that, you just refinance your underlying mortgage and take out extra money and use that.
Is the Climate Mobilization Act the biggest thing that’s hit you?
Yeah, that’s huge. I’ve got pet peeves about it, but essentially it’s written to meet a need, and that’s understandable. But the people who wrote it didn’t have much of a sense of early 20th-century multifamily housing stock, of which there’s a considerable amount in New York City. It’s a very different architecture that has limitations in terms of adaptability to 21st-century demands.
From all the research I’ve been doing for a number of years now, the only thing that’s clear is the push to electrify everything. Which I don’t like personally because one, it’s the most expensive utility; number two, it’s the most unstable utility; and number three, it’s the one utility that is most vulnerable to attack. So it’s putting all your eggs in one basket, and that’s a problem. For a small building like ours, you’re looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses to even try to get close to the standard that they want by 2030. That’s coming up fast.
Do you see a solution to your dilemma?
The problem right now is that there is no end-to-end solution for buildings like ours to be in compliance by 2030. And I think that probably some of the things that will solve the problem haven’t even been invented yet. You can’t plan for something when you don’t know what it is or what the costs are going to be.
Board president (26 years total)
205 E. 10th St.
East Village, Manhattan
Years of Board Service: 32
Year built: 1928
Operating budget: $650,000
Current assessment: No
Maintenance increase: 4% in 2022
Property management: EBMG
Attorney: Hartman, Ule, Rose & Ratner
Accountant: Marin & Montanye