Tom Soter in Bricks & Bucks
The oil tank sat in a 300- to 400-square-foot space in the basement of the 38-unit property, which was built around 1914 between Broadway and West End Avenue. The plan was to junk that tank, which sat next to another room containing the 100-horsepower Scotch Marine steam boiler, build a small closet for the gas heater, and run a new gas main from a new point of entry provided by Con Ed. That gas line was extended to the boiler room where the contractor installed a new burner that could burn natural gas and also Number 2 oil – an important requirement, since the building would heat itself with oil until the gas line was in place and operating.
The work began in July of 2014 and was substantially completed in December of 2015. “It's taking between 12 and 18 months to implement these types of projects,” Varsalona explains. “The utility is fairly backed up – it takes a while to get the gas service in and get a gas meter. They’ll put you in their construction queue and that could take anywhere from nine months to a year to get the service, sometimes longer depending on what's going on in the neighborhood.”
During its wait, 252 West 85th Street had other work done as part of the project: a new steel chimney liner was run from above the roof level to the boiler within what was previously an unlined masonry chimney. A new burner and piping was installed in the boiler room, and that piping was extended up to where the new point of entry was going to be located. Finally, the team performed all the other miscellaneous code upgrades required by the city.
The board, led by Walsh, was very hands-on, says Varsalona. The members were present during interviews with the various contractors who had bid competitively for the project, and attended a number of meetings during the course of the work. They had to be patient, explains Varsalona, since “this is not like a typical capital improvement where you're done within 8 or 12 weeks. We knew it was going to be a long, drawn-out process with the utility. So they had to remain vigilant and keep things moving, making sure that we were going to finally get gas. I've done several projects with this co-op board, and they're very hands on. They get it.”
And they’re hoping it won’t take as long to install that gym or meeting room in the freed-up space.
The total price of the project was $281,450 (the initial contract price was $243,000). The managing agent was Ellen Marone at Midboro Management. The contractor was Controlled Combustion Corp.
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