Checking all the boxes. Our most satisfying achievement is staying ahead of the curve on energy-related improvements, such as converting from oil to gas, changing all our common-area lighting to LEDs and putting solar panels on our roof. We also modernized our elevators, renovated the lobby and put in a very nice roof deck. And we’ve taken care of all those projects while keeping maintenance low and avoiding assessments, because we’re astute about financing and make sure the money is there.
Backup plan. For example, when we did the gas conversion a while back, we had some issues, including having to reline our chimney, and we realized our reserves weren’t sufficient. We thought about refinancing our underlying mortgage, but the prepayment penalty would’ve been very large. Our lender was not in the business of making lines of credit, so we used a broker and spent a fair amount of effort shopping around before we found a bank that would put its line of credit on top of an underlying mortgage from another lender, which wasn’t easy to do.
Next steps. Since then we’ve instituted a hefty 10% flip tax, which has helped fund our capital improvements. We refinanced our mortgage with a different lender early last year, when mortgages were cheap and easy to come by, because we have another big project in the works. We’re replacing all our windows this year, which will cost at least three times as much as any of our earlier projects. They’re old, past their useful life and let in too much air and too much cold. We weren’t specifically motivated by energy savings, but it will be nice to get the extra benefit. Our building currently has an A energy grade, which indicates we’ll be in compliance with the near-term requirements of Local Law 97, the Climate Mobilization Act.
Cash in hand. Between the mortgage refinance and the line of credit we got with our new lender, I think we’re pretty well set. Of course one of the wild cards for any building these days is facade repairs, because you never know what they will find when they get up on the walls, and you can’t get fixed-price contracts for that work. This is also our year to get into that. But unless it’s just totally crazy, I think any amount that it would cost will be more than well covered by our existing financing.
Board treasurer (15 years)
771 West End Ave.,
Upper West Side, Manhattan
Years of service: 15
Year Built: 1915
Operating budget: $2 million
Maintenance increase: 7.8% in 2021
Property management: The Lovett Group
Accountant: Steven Khan & Associates
Attorney: Herrick Feinstein