Bill Morris in Bricks & Bucks on January 2, 2019
The co-op board at the 87-unit Hastings House in Hastings-on-Hudson faced a familiar dilemma. There was no doubt that the underground parking garage needed some love – there were cracks in the concrete ceiling, water was puddling on the floor. But the reserve fund couldn’t handle the necessary $500,000 repair, and the seven board members were loath to raise the maintenance or assess shareholders. Faced with such a dilemma, what should a co-op board do?
Wait for the stars to align.
“We knew the work would have to be done,” says long-time board treasurer Peter Smyth, a mortgage broker. “When we first started thinking about doing it, we had an engineer on the board who did his own investigation and told us the ceiling was structurally sound. So it was our plan to wait to make the repairs when we re-financed our mortgage.”
The stars aligned in 2010, when the co-op had paid down enough of its mortgage and interest rates had come down to tantalizing levels. It was time to pounce. The board was able to take out a $2.1 million mortgage with $1.2 million set aside for the reserve fund. The garage job now became possible – without pain. “We got that money and our monthly payments actually went down,” Smyth says. “It was nice to be able to tell that to the shareholders.”
The board hired the architecture and engineering firm Antonucci & Associates to oversee the requests for proposal and review bids from three contractors. There were discrepancies in the original bids so the board sent them back and got revised bids, then called the contractors in for interviews.
“The way they presented themselves was crucial to the board’s decision,” says Smyth. “You want somebody who can respond to your questions. You like to get a good feeling.” After checking the contractors’ references and visiting other jobs they had done, the board decided to hire Infrastructure Repair Service.
The job was a challenge, both for the contractor and the board. The logistics, according to long-time board president Diana Virrill, were “mind-boggling.” After digging up the gardens and terrace above the garage roof, workers had to re-pour some concrete from above before laying down a waterproof membrane, then rebuilding the gardens and terrace. Some concrete patching was also done inside the garage. The job was done in sections, which meant the board had arrange for shifts of shareholders to park their cars alongside Route 9, which skirts the 13-acre riverfront property. This required special permits from the Village of Hastings-on-Hudson, plus constant communication with shareholders. The board held informational meetings, and the co-op’s property manager, David Guerrero of Garthchester Realty, sent newsletters with regular progress updates. The super, Mario Guevera, was on the job site every day.
The finishing touch was for crews to paint the walls, ceilings, pillars, and parking stripes. The job took three and a half years to complete and carried a price tag of $508,420.
“This job was bigger than the other capital projects we’ve done – replacing windows and the roof, asbestos removal, re-carpeting and re-painting the hallways,” says Smyth. “It was definitely the right thing to do – and we didn’t even have to assess the shareholders. The whole idea was to do it when we had enough money to do it – right after the re-fi. It was a very thought-out process.”
PRINCIPAL PLAYERS – ENGINEER: Antonucci & Associates. CONTRACTOR: Infrastructure Repair Service. PROPERTY MANAGEMENT: Garthchester Realty.
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