New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide




A Collection of Capital Projects at 771 West End Avenue

Tom Soter in Legal/Financial

Upper West Side

771 West End Avenue. Kate Leonova for Property Shark.
771 West End Avenue

A line of credit and reserves provide funding. To do the work, the board has taken out a line of credit. But the building also has a healthy reserve fund, thanks to "the ten percent flip tax between the purchase price and the sale price of the property," says Kornfeld. "If you bought it at $80,000 and sold it for $2 million — you do the math. They rely heavily on [the flip tax] to address capital projects. They might get a $200,000 payday when an original purchaser is selling. They've done their lobby, their hallways, and their roof deck. All from the money they collect from sales. I have never encountered this before."

Replacing the burner. The burner had actually been replaced two years ago at a cost of $70,590, but now the building needed a new boiler. The impetus for that was Local Law 43. Instituted five years ago, it requires all buildings in the five boroughs using No. 6 heating oil to switch to a cleaner alternative, either No. 2 or No. 4 oil, or else natural gas. "Burning oil was getting expensive," says Kornfeld. Adds Rivera: "They decided that it would be better to do the gas conversion now and take advantage of the savings."

The co-op hired RAND Architecture and Engineering to get sealed bids from boiler companies for a dual system. Champion Combustion, the building's current service company, was chosen as the contractor. Easco Boiler Corp., a division of A.L. Eastmond & Sons Corporation, built the boiler. Although the dual system allows the use of either gas or oil, as part of the agreement with Con Edison, the building has to commit to burning gas for the next four or five years so that it isn't charged.

Replacing the oil tank. The leaky 10,000-gallon oil storage tank was replaced with a 7,500-gallon one (a smaller capacity because No. 2 oil burns more efficiently). "Once you convert to gas that's it," explains Kornfeld. "You can't go back to oil." But, then, on May 22, more problems arose: the boiler was positioned incorrectly. RAND said there would need to be additional "excavations," all of which would delay completion.

Bringing the gas in. The next step — bringing the gas to the boiler — has been time-consuming (although that, too, has been delayed). The Department of Buildings has to inspect and sign off before Con Edison can sign off and approve. It involves a 100-year-old "underground breeching" — an underground passageway that runs from the boiler room down to the basement floor into the courtyard and into the wall and up to the roof into a brick chimney. That chimney has to be lined with stainless steel. "You can't burn gas without a chimney being encapsulated in stainless steel lining or, if that's not possible, adding a steel extension that runs up the building alongside the existing chimney," Kornfeld says. Putting in the steel lining takes time.

All the projects, excluding the burner replacement, started in March. The work is still in progress.

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