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Four-Alarm Fire Leads to a Massive Co-op Rebuild in Kew Gardens, Queens

Jason Carpenter in Bricks & Bucks on September 3, 2014

84-70 129th Street, Kew Gardens, New York City

84-70 129th Street, Kew Gardens, Queens
Sept. 3, 2014

"Everyone reached out to find the right team to get the job done," Singh continues. "The project manager had a contractor he had some trust with, one of our board members had a recommendation through a business contract, and even the super reached out and found someone. We knew it was important to have all the right people in place, and everyone worked together to find the right people."

The board eventually chose dmb Contracting to take charge of the necessary demolition work and take over construction once an architect had designed a fix. "Our board member had confidence in referring them through his business contact, and their pricing was very competitive," Singh says.

Demolish to Rebuild

A huge portion of the building was damaged and had to be demolished before the construction work could begin: burn and water damage destroyed 14 apartments, three hallways, and an elevator shaft. To extinguish the fire, the FDNY had had to cut into the roof, so repairs were also needed there.

To design the rebuild, S.W. Engineering was chosen from a small list of proposals (the firm had previously worked with the project manager). Yakov Weinstein, a parter at S.W. Engineering, led the design, while DMB Contracting took charge of the work and hired subcontractors to install all necessary systems. "You basically had nothing there," Weinstein says. "We had to do all the gas lines and everything, from the basement up, floor by floor. And we were pressed for time because the shareholders were displaced and wanted to get back to their normal lives as soon as possible. It wasn't a difficult construction, but it was just a matter of time and doing everything on each floor, one by one."

The structural work necessary to rebuild the apartments would touch a little bit of every part of building renovation: new floor plates, gas lines, plumbing lines, electric risers, doors, windows, brick pointing, repainting - the list went on and on. The job required organization and diligence from everyone involved to keep on track. "It took a detail-oriented and proactive project manager to keep on top of everyone and keep the work moving forward, and we got that through S.W. Engineering," Singh says. "[Project manager] Paul Gans's services were invaluable as well; he took a lot off our plate and kept things on schedule from the start to the finish."

Opportunity to Upgrade

The board and project manager took the opportunity to upgrade the co-op where they could. "We were able to make a few improvements during the rebuild," Gans says. "We switched  to LED light fixtures and put in energy-efficient appliances on the third, fourth, and fifth floors. We also added some high-quality insulation to save on heating bills and energy costs."

The work would rebuild all 14 damaged apartments and three hallways, and replace 64 doors and 36 windows. The stairwells have been repainted and soot damage cleaned from the elevator and building exterior. "The apartments are now livable and ready for approval," Weinstein says. "They have new bathrooms, new kitchens, basically everything in new condition, probably better than before."

The work has cost $1.9 million, but the building has been saved from the worst disaster in its history and is very nearly ready to bring the shareholders back to their homes. "It's been a massive effort for everyone involved and I learned a great deal more than I thought I would," Singh says. "Fortunately we're coming to a close on the project, and hopefully things can return to normal very soon."


Project start: February 2014
Estimated end: September 2014


● Demolish and rebuild apartment floors damaged by fire 

● Repair soot and water damage throughout building 

● Repair roof cut into by FDNY 

● Install energy-efficient lighting and appliances 


$1.9 million 


Paul Gans, project manager, New Bedford Management

Rabindra Singh, board president

Yakov Weinstein, partner, S.W. Engineering

DMB Contracting 


Estimated Market Value: $8,346,000

Assessed Value: $3,073,950



05/08/2014: $209,000

03/19/2014: $185,000

02/26/2014: $85,000


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Photo courtesy New Bedford Management.

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