New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide




Façade Facelift

Tom Soter in Bricks & Bucks

West Village

"There are five members of the board, ranging from an attorney and a print editor to a member in finance," says Levine. "Each come with their own set of tools that gives this board a wide range of knowledge."


That experience came in handy when the board looked for ways to fund the project. The members worked on obtaining financing for the project through a refinancing of the underlying mortgage on the building and also obtained a line of credit.


The building consists of new residents and a number of people who have been there since the conversion to cooperative status in 1984 (some sponsor apartment residents remain). There are a variety of economic situations as well, in line with the rising land values and higher purchase prices that the newer shareholders have paid. Even with widely disparate income ranges, there was no dissension about the cost, because, as Levine notes, "everyone knew that the work was needed at this time and they were all in agreement." That was partly because the board was very careful about communicating the issues to the residents, discussing it at the annual meeting and through regular e-mail updates. "The residents were kept up to date with start-dates and the scope of work that would affect their units directly," explains Levine.


After obtaining five bids, the co-op hired PRESERV, the contractors who are working on the project now. The architect and the managing agent have had weekly Tuesday morning meetings to review the progress of the project and to clarify any questions and scheduling issues at the time. The minutes of those meetings act as the progress reports for the work and they are filed electronically in the board's Dropbox, where the members can view the project's status.


"The questions all funnel through the property manager and then get sent to the professionals working on the project. The property manager will then send all of the answers back to the board as they come in," explains Levine. Not surprisingly when dealing with such an old building, the scope of work grew larger as the job proceeded (and the prices rose as well).


The work began in August and is expected to go until the end of next winter, with a stoppage during the winter months as needed. The building purposely spread the work out so that it could spread out the payments as well, allowing for an easier budgeting. As of late October, the projected cost is roughly $2.1M.


"The key to a project as large this is dealing with an architect or engineer who has experience on these types of facade preservations/restorations," Levine notes. "You need to have someone in your corner who can lead the way to the final repair in a way that will both benefit the building financially and structurally. They have the building's best interest at heart and when all of the sides are working together as a team, the work can get done as quickly and properly as possible."

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