Sue Treiman in Bricks & Bucks on September 25, 2019
After some initial ups and downs, an elevator redo at Yonkers’ Riverview Club condominium wraps up soon – on the up and up. The 12-story, 262-unit tower, built in 1976 on North Yonkers’ Gold Coast, boasts a pool, community room, gym, indoor parking, and stunning Hudson River views.
But when the Ferrara Management Group took over the luxury property in 2017, it was apparent its vertical transportation needed a lift. “The three elevators were the original equipment, well past their lifespan,” says Tina Thiakodemitris, senior account executive with the management company.
Then New York City upped the ante, requiring door-lock monitors on most elevators by 2020 and emergency brakes by 2027, regulations adopted after a fatal Manhattan elevator incident. “Westchester County will eventually adopt the same regulations,” says Joe Caracappa, CEO of the Sierra Consulting Group, which was hired in 2017 to assess Riverview Club’s elevators.
His verdict on the condo’s three elevators: “The machinery, electronic components, wiring, cabling, buttons, and door-operating equipment needed complete replacement.” But the $720,000 price tag was a heavy lift. The condo’s bylaws require approval by 51 percent of the unit-owners for any project over $100,000. And with many apartment investors living off-site, board members worried that unit-owners might balk.
“We have many renters and people who like the status quo and tend not to get involved,” explains board member Michelle Quinn, who works as a real estate lawyer.
An initial proposal to borrow the full amount couldn’t muster a quorum and, several months later, a general vote failed to win majority unit-owner approval. That was when the activist board switched into high gear.
“You have to be competitive to grab attention,” says board president Robert Schork, a media professional. “So we explained the project in newsletters, published elevator FAQs, blasted reminder emails and texts, established lobby information tables, and offered in-person, proxy or advance voting options.”
The idea, adds Quinn, was to spark enough awareness to win a majority vote. “We handed out goodie bags, talked to people on their way to and from the train, and underlined the need.”
By then, the board had decided the building would fund approximately half the total cost, with the remainder to come through a 24-month special assessment. This time, the required majority of unit-owners gave the plan a thumbs-up.
By April, with Sierra in charge, the construction contract went to the low bidder, Eltech Elevator Industries of the Bronx. Residents voted on an elevator color scheme, while management allayed fears about the 10-week shutdown for each elevator. “We were explicit about ensuring minimal shutdowns, creating as little inconvenience as possible,” says Thiakodemitris.
Two shiny new cars were operating by September, with the third scheduled for Halloween completion.
“Ninety-five per cent of the system will be brand new – modern, gearless elevators with door-lock monitoring and emergency braking in compliance with New York City regulations,” says Caracappa. “We think that’s just appropriate.”
The project will be finished and paid in full by the end of the year, and the Riverview Club’s new vertical transport system will be good to go for at least 20 years – and probably far longer.
Says board president Schork, “It’s an all’s-well-that-ends-well project.”
PRINCIPAL PLAYERS – CONSULTANT: Sierra Consulting Group. CONTRACTOR: Eltech Elevator Industries. PROPERTY MANAGER: the Ferrara Management Group.
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