Bill Morris in Bricks & Bucks on June 23, 2021
A decade ago, the nine-member board at a Yonkers co-op belonged to the if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it school of thought. As long as the need for major capital projects didn’t appear urgent, the board kept monthly maintenance flat. Today, after changing management companies and getting a thorough engineer’s report on the condition of the three buildings in the 404-unit, postwar property, the co-op board has transferred to the do-it-once-and-do-it-right school.
“If you don’t need money, why ask for it?” says board president Robert DiMartini, explaining the board’s old way of thinking. But the board, he adds, was under incorrect impressions about the physical condition of the three buildings. After hiring Charles H. Greenthal in 2018 to manage the property and getting a thorough physical assessment from AMR Engineering, the board’s thinking changed.
“As soon as we found out the buildings’ condition was not as good as we’d thought it was, that’s when we decided to weigh our options on financing,” DiMartini says, noting that the engineer’s report revealed that the roofs and brick facades were in need of serious work. “There was a lot of debate because it’s a lot of money. But in the end, the board decided the work had to be done. This was something that couldn’t wait. It wasn’t an easy decision.”
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The board had refinanced the underlying mortgage in 2017 with New York Community Bank, but the money on hand, including the reserve fund, was not enough to tackle complete roof replacements, extensive facade work and repairs to fire escapes that were budgeted at $5.2 million. So in October 2019 the board levied a $6 million assessment to be spread over five years. After the coronavirus pandemic hit, the board revisited that decision and agreed to spread out the pain by lowering the assessment and increasing maintenance permanently. The days of patchwork repairs were over.
“The buildings were given Band-Aids over the past 60 years,” says Valona Gjeka, the property manager. “We’re putting in better roofs than we needed, which will help with heating and cooling and give the board options for the future.”
Once the work is complete next spring, the board plans to discuss using the sturdy new roofs to support solar panels or windmills, possibly communal decks. Other items on the wish list include renovating the hallways and bringing in more amenities. Whatever the board decides to do, though, it will be governed by a new school of thought.
“You can patch things forever or you can replace them properly and build up your property’s appearance and value,” DiMartini says. “Hopefully, we’re hitting all the major items, and we’ll be good to go for the next 10 years. We’re looking to do this work correctly – and do it once.”
PRINCIPAL PLAYERS – PROPERTY MANAGER: Charles H. Greenthal Management. CONTRACTOR: Amsterdam Restoration. ENGINEER: AMR Engineering Consultant. LENDER: New York Community Bank.
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