Tom Soter in Bricks & Bucks
Lorry Bogarsky, board president of the 68-unit Hewlett Park Apartments cooperative in Hewlett Park, Long Island, remembers it well. The block-long pair of U-shaped buildings that make up the garden apartment complex needed repairs. “We had to do a lot of work to do,” she says.
That’s an understatement.
It was, says Steve Greenbaum, the director of management at Mark Greenberg Real Estate, a project involving a “grand scheme.” He notes: “We got some money back from real estate taxes, and refinanced the mortgage, and then took on a series of major capital improvements. We did landscaping, we did the walkways and exterior lighting, then we did the electric, the roof, and the windows.”
It all began two summers ago, in 2014, when the exterior concrete pathways of the two-story-high garden apartments were redone because, Greenbaum says, “they were crumbling and falling apart. We also did eight entrance doors and the exterior lighting.” The cost: $50,000. At the same time, the co-op undertook the first phase of a three-phase (over three years) landscaping project, with a price tag of $40,000.
After that came the interior electrical work, which was required by the insurance company. “They noticed that some of the apartments still had fuses rather than circuit-breakers,” Greenbaum recalls, noting: “Fuses blow out, people overload the fuses, and they can create sparking problems. A circuit-breaker is much safer.”
The owners were put on notice. The normal price to make the switch from fuses was $600 to $700. Greenbaum obtained a group price that was considerably less. The manager says it was a good time to change because the electrical panel and antiquated meters in the basement needed to be upgraded. Barett was the electrical company the board had hired for the work, which came to roughly $100,000. It was finished at the end of the summer of 2015.
Next, the board turned to the roofs. An engineer drew up specifications, and Flagg Waterproofing & Restoration, the lowest bidder, was chosen. “They did an amazing job, and we got a 20-year ‘no dollar limit’ guarantee,” notes Greenbaum. That work went without a hitch, and also involved the addition of new roof access doors and the replacement of an architectural detail: beat-up, old weather vanes sitting on steeples were replaced with brand new copper versions, much to the delight of the residents. The cost for the roof: $600,000.
Finally, the board tackled the windows, which had far exceeded their useful life. Kelly Windows was chosen as the contractor, says Greenbaum, partly because Kelly is both a manufacturer and installer, and partly because they had the best price. The work was funded by an assessment, which, Bogarsky says, was spread over 18 months. The job took two months and cost $200,000.
The company “did a fantastic job,” says the manager, who praises Kelly’s Carl Guiliani and his foreman, Bobby, as two men “who eat, breathe, and love windows. I will tell you, it's the first window contractor that I've had where [after they finished, shareholders] in the building actually called me in my office and said, ‘Oh the window contractor was here, and he did a really, really good job.’ After that, I'm waiting for them to say, ‘But’ – and they never said, ‘but.’ They said, ‘They did a really good job and I really want to thank you.’ And that was it. It’s remarkable.”
PROJECT PLAYERS – PROPERTY MANAGER: Steve Greenbaum at Mark Greenberg Real Estate. CONTRACTORS (PARTIAL LIST): Barett Electric; Flagg Waterproofing & Restoration; Kelly Window Systems.
Co-op and condo board business broken down into bite-sized bits - 2 stories each week. Read now on all digital devices.
A free digital resource for co-op/condo board directors. Published twice a month. Read now on all digital devices.