Tom Soter in Bricks & Bucks on April 24, 2013
The work was a long time coming, notes Hutchins, who says that extensive leaks in 2010 led to a decision to give up patching and go for a complete repair job. "It hadn't had thorough repointing and waterproofing since it was built. It's in a part of Brooklyn that was neglected for a long time."
Constructed in 1936, the Art Deco building - one block from Prospect Park - features the signature elements of its designers, the Cohn Brothers: an asymmetrical floor plan and bold ornamentation. "It really is a beautiful building," says Hutchins, who has been president for the last two years, "with terrazzo floors and incredible etched glass windows in the lobby - most of which had been replaced with wired frosted glass."
The board hired architect Joakim Aspegren, the president of Architecture Restoration Conservation (ARC), to perform a full evaluation of the building envelope, including leak investigations for more than 25 apartments. Some of the elements that were in the worst condition were those that made the building distinctive, including the steel casement windows that decorate the common areas, and portions of decorative purple and orange iron-spot brickwork.
The challenge for ARC was to reverse deterioration while keeping the cost of the project in check. ARC identified which elements would require special care. The project involved restoring the casement windows in the common areas, including the triple-feature window with etched glass at the grand elevator lobby; restoring face-brick color to match decorative bricks; removing and replacing face-brick and installing expansion-joint and color decorative bricks to match; repairing deteriorated steel at the fire escape outriggers; replacing deflected steel lintels and cracked stone window sills; reconstructing portions of the parapet wall; and replacing localized areas of the roof membrane and associated flashing, decorative cast stone, and metal cladding at the bulkhead.
The biggest challenge, Hutchins says, has been living with the scaffolding (put up in the spring of 2012), which has tried the patience of the residents, who range from young professionals and senior citizens to ever-growing families. ("We seem to be a very fertile building; there are a lot of babies," says Hutchins, who adds that the property has 12 apartment layouts, which makes it ideal for a variety of people.) "The tenants have been very patient and understanding. We had the lobby windows, which are etched glass, restored, and I think that helped" because everyone could see results.
From the beginning, the board of directors has taken an active role in the $1 million plus project, which was funded by a six-month assessment, the reserve fund, and a line of credit. "This is a great board to work with; they ask questions, voice concerns, and are sensitive to the importance of the building's interesting architectural features," says Cameron S. Lory, senior project manager at ARC. "They understand that maintaining the aesthetics of the building protects the value of the property."
Estimated Market Value: $3,213,000
Taxable Value: $1,238,833
Cost: $1 million
Architecture Restoration Conservation, architects
Juno Construction, contractor
Advanced Management Services, managing agent
Jeannie Hutchins, president
Began in winter 2011; scheduled to end in spring 2013.
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