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Leaks Much More Than Skin-Deep for Greenwich Village 'Gold Coast' Co-op

Tom Soter in Bricks & Bucks on May 8, 2013

Greenwich Village, Manhattan, 33 Fifth Avenue

Projects Around Town: 33 Fifth Avenue
May 8, 2013

Bischoff’s building, the 60-unit 33 Fifth Avenue, had to. Located in Greenwich Village’s “Gold Coast,” it was built in 1924 and is only blocks away from Washington Square Park, Union Square and a number of restaurants and shops. The building has great views and high ceilings. But it also had a big problem.

“We had a rainy April two years ago,” says Bischoff. “It was just two weeks of wind-driven rain, and the eastern facade of our building proved to be especially porous. Almost everybody on the upper floors had leaks. It was quite dramatic. The bricks would have to be replaced from the parapet down to the top of the eighth floor.”

Architect Board-Member

Bischoff knows what he’s talking about. As a co-op board member for seven years and president for another 10 years, he has been very involved in the co-op’s affairs for a long time. And as an architect, he knew the property was in bad shape. “All the bricks were reaching the end of their life expectancy.” 

Besides that, they had a Local Law 11 report that required terra cotta and limestone repairs and repointing. “They had tons and tons of water damage because they were being pounded by weather,” says William Pitonyak, senior project associate at RAND Engineering & Architecture, who supervised the project. 

The work began in June 2012, but there were many delays along the line, since the building, on East 10th Street in Greenwich Village, sits in a landmarked district and every change needed approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Also, the board was legally required to have a site safety supervisor on hand. “It added to the expense of the project,” says Bischoff, “but it’s driven by safety [concerns], so you can’t argue with that.”

Rusty Venture

The job, which was financed with money from a special assessment, the reserve fund, and a line of credit, came in on budget ($400,000) and on time (six months of actual sitework). Although there were unexpected threats – superstorm Sandy – and some discoveries — rusty steel that had to be replaced, among other things — the co-op board was prepared: it had set up a “cushion” in the budget to deal with possible problems.

“We had good communications among all parties, and I think that was pretty successful,” says Bischoff, who cites weekly site meetings with representatives of the board; the manager from Gumley-Haft; the architect; and the contractor, Central Construction Management.

Although the skinning was a major, time-consuming challenge — which was tough on the top-floor residents who had to relocate their terrace plants — Bischoff reports that his most surprising moments came when he checked out the references given by the contractors who were bidding. “I was surprised that some of the references gave negative comments about the contractors who had offered up [the reference] names,” he notes, adding with a laugh: “But it did make me feel that the time and trouble I was taking to make the phone calls was worth it.” 



Estimated Market Value: $11,840,000

Taxable Value: $4,911,443


8/2/2012: $1,112,500

5/30/2012: $4,300,000

3/27/2012: $1,525,000



Cost: $400,000

  • Bricks replaced from the parapet down to the top of the eighth floor
  • Terra-cotta repairs
  • Limestone repairs
  • Repointing


RAND Engineering & Architecture

Central Construction Management

Ivan Mrakovcic, R.A., Architect of Record

Work started: June 2012
Work ended: February 2013

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