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Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

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BRICKS & BUCKS

BUILDING PROJECTS IN NYC CO-OPS/CONDOS

Reaching New Heights: Historic Uptown Building Recaptures Glory with Façade Restoration

Kathryn Farrell in Bricks & Bucks on January 30, 2013

Hamilton Heights, Manhattan

470 Convent Avenue
Jan. 30, 2013

Being an icon, though, presents its own challenges. Because the building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, both the board and Rand had to work closely with the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to ensure the integrity of the building’s design. Says Davu: “Rand took care of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, so it went pretty smoothly. I tried to do something [with the LPC] on my own – the storefront awnings – and the individual for the LPC was not nice. He shrugged it off, was very condescending, and shot down everything I did. Now Rand is working with them and they’re dealing with it.”

The extensive nature of the project means that the LPC is involved nearly every step of the way. The full renovation plan includes the repair of limestone and terra cotta, and the replacement of terra cotta, bricks, lintels, slate window sills, and the parapet.

Kemp, the project manager, can sympathize. “We had some difficulties, and we still do, with locating the kind of brick used in the building, because it’s not a standard size. It’s been really difficult to get the right dimensions. The Landmarks Preservation Commission was opposed to cutting bricks to get the right size. We’re contemplating getting custom bricks made, because we’ve exhausted all our resources and checked every brick house in the eastern region.”

One area where there hasn’t been any issue is the planned green roof deck. When all the details of the roof replacement was presented to the shareholders, making a few adjustments to create a communal space seemed like an obvious choice. “There are a couple of roof decks in the neighborhood, but not nice ones like ours,” boasts Davu. “We’re going to be original. It’s the main thing people ask about. ‘It’s going to happen definitely next year, right, Michael?’ Sure, why not.” That way along with the projected energy savings, “they will get something tangible out of it as well.”

Goodwill may be forthcoming from shareholders, but Kemp says not everyone is thrilled about the ongoing project. “Getting access from the adjoining property has been a problem. They have refused for quite a while, saying we need to provide proper protection. They’re a parking lot. Now they’re asking us to pay them a monthly fee just so they can protect their property.”

Everyone agrees, though, that the building and the renovation were lucky to get through the October onslaught by Hurricane Sandy relatively unscathed. Rand is using pipe scaffolding instead of suspended scaffolding to support its work because of the height of the building. Kemp says that the loss of the scaffolding’s netting was all the damage the building sustained.

“The Department of Buildings came by and saw [the netting gone] and issued a stop-work order, so we can’t work until the netting is secure,” but that looks to be the biggest Sandy-related delay. Adds Davu: “It was just a normal natural disaster. You can’t schedule it; everyone’s schedule stopped, so it was really fine. It is what it is.”

What may cause delays later, though, is the complete window replacement, because it requires interior access. Explains Kemp: “The way you do that is typically different because exterior work can be done by area, but interior work is organized by floor. We have to coordinate access with a whole floor.”

As for the building populace, Davu notes: “It’s a mixed community. They’re all first-time homebuyers, but they balance out on decisions because everyone is at a different place in their lives.” Even when presented with the massive scope of the renovation, “only one or two people” were against it. “The majority said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

Value

Property Taxes

Estimated market value: $1,297,000

2012/13 taxable value: $494,280

Recent Sales

6/18/12: $225,000

10/25/10: $250,000

8/27/10: $270,000

Building Investment

Project

  • Cost: $999,000
  • Façade, roof, and window restoration on historic landmark Beaux Arts building, including new limestone, terra cotta, brick, and slate work, railings
  • Addition of a green roof deck with communal space
  • Limited heating system upgrades
  • Structural reinforcement of northern wing

Contributors

  • Jamey Ehrman and Albelisa Kemp, Rand Engineering & Architecture
  • Central Construction
  • Champion Combustion
  • Michael Davu, board president

This project was started July 2012.

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