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Historic Soho Co-op Recaptures Former Glory with Façade Fixup

Tom Soter in Bricks & Bucks on June 5, 2013

SoHo, Manhattan, 537 Broadway

537 Broadway
June 5, 2013

The eight-unit, five-story property was literally falling apart. In 2007, “a piece of cast iron fell off the building, and that was kind of a red light to us,” observes Davidson Gigliotti, former president and current treasurer of the five-member board.

The board hired Howard L. Zimmerman Architects to prepare a top-to-bottom report on the state of the property. “It was built in 1868, and not a great deal had been done since that time,” Gigliotti recalls.

The report found deficiencies in the roof, causing leaks; windows needing repair and/or  replacement; and cast-iron façade work that had “exploded” (i.e., was poorly attached to the façade). “There was a group of deteriorated pieces of ornamentation, and we wound up photo-documenting them all, and then identifying how many pieces that needed to be recast and replaced,” explains Jordan Levinson, a project associate at Zimmerman who worked with the senior manager, Marco Muhaysin, on the job. “The recasting was done in fiberglass instead of stone.”

After immediately repairing areas that were dangerous, the board saw the major overhaul of the property begin in 2010. That included putting in a new roof and restoring the windows facing an interior courtyard. Sidewalk bridges were in place for two years.

Before work began, things at 537 Broadway were in bad shape.

“They wound up splitting the job into just three phases for the façade, and then the fourth phase was the windows,” reports Levinson.

There was lead on the courtyard façade that needed abatement and lead on the Broadway façade. There was also asbestos on the roof, requiring a partial abatement around the flashing. All that work required approvals from the departments of Buildings and Environmental Protection.

Since the building is in a landmarked district, all work also required approvals from the Landmark Preservation Commission, which was time-consuming but not onerous. “We went through the whole landmark filing process,” says Levinson, “and they OKed our replacing everything in fiberglass instead of stone. There was even a balustrade railing at the lower level – I think it’s the second floor – that was redone in fiberglass. It looks exactly like the original. Fiberglass holds up better longer, and it’s a whole lot less weight.”

Gigliotti, an artist and writer, was on the committee that communicated with Zimmerman and the contractor, DJM. Gigliotti’s background in architecture helped expedite the process, which involved weekly meetings. “We talked the same language,” he notes. The window replacement was handled by another contractor, Artistic Doors & Windows.

There were a few surprises along the way. The windows looking out on an interior courtyard had rolldown gates from the days when the structure was a factory. These were quite heavy and weighed down the windows, which – instead of being pitched out to shed water away from the building – were now throwing water into the building, which created water infiltration issues. Since the gates were not visible from the street, replacing them with a lighter alternative was not a landmark issue.

The shareholders were kept in the loop throughout the process. “A lot of the work involved their units,” says Gigliotti, “and all that was taking place right outside their units. We kept them informed what was going to be happening.”

Levinson estimates the costs for the project at $1.7 million, and the money for that came from the shareholders and also from income the co-op took in when it renegotiated its lease with its commercial space in 2008.

“It was a pretty intricate job,” concludes Levinson. “There was an intense level of detail that went into it. Even if it’s built in the same way, every building is different. Every building has its own personality.”




Estimated Market Value: $13,792,000

Assessed Value: $1,190,189


12/7/06: $2,200,000

6/30/05: $1,333,000



Cost: $1,700,000

  • full cast iron restoration
  • coating fabrication of decorative elements
  • waterproofing
  • roof replacement
  • window replacement


Howard L. Zimmerman Architects: Jordan Levinson, project associate; Marco Muhaysin, senior manager

DJM Contracting Corp.

Artistic Doors & Windows

Davidson Gigliotti, board treasurer/former president

Started: Sept. 2010; Finished: Dec, 2012

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