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Facelift for a Faded Soho Beauty

Sue Treiman in Bricks & Bucks

SoHo

Soho Facelift

AFTER THE FACELIFT: 95 Greene Street restored to it original beauty (image courtesy of DJM NYC)

After a century of hard urban living, even the prettiest face needs some tender loving care. Soho’s 95 Greene Street was no exception. A year ago, the 46,000 square-foot structure, located in world’s greatest cast-iron building district, was a pockmarked shadow of its former self. “It was rather shabby,” admits board member Ted Farris.

Today, the architectural gem is a testament to years of coordination, cooperation and planning.

“We had the perfect storm of a team, with the property managers, architect, contractor and board working together rather than splitting hairs over minor details,” says Doug Williams, project manager for the contractor, DJM NYC of Glendale, Queens.

The 29-unit condominium melds three original buildings; 93, 95 and 97 Greene, with the oldest built in 1885, the year Grover Cleveland started serving his first term as U.S. President. Newer sections were added around 1900, which was cast iron’s heyday. The material was renowned for its fire resistance and load-bearing strength, with molten iron poured into forms to create panels and columns. But, like all of us, cast-iron tends to show its age.

“We knew repainting would be expensive,” says Farris, “so we did an assessment in 2013 and agreed to wait until we’d collected enough to fund the repairs and still maintain a cash cushion. We wanted to spread the expense out as painlessly as possible, while limiting common charges to no more than $400 a month for unit-owners.”

In early spring 2016, building manager Paul Brensilber, president of Jordan Cooper & Associates, led a bidding process that awarded DJM NYC the $500,000 contract. Under the supervision of the Howard L. Zimmerman architectural firm, workers erected scaffolding from street to roof in front of the six-story structure. That inconvenienced ground-floor retailers Fendi, Chloe and Tiffany, but they – and residents – endured.

“Everyone knew there’d be some hardship,” says Joseph Nevins, a director at Zimmerman’s firm.

Meanwhile, Patrick Burgess, the project manager brought in by Zimmerman, helped trouble-shoot surprises. And there were several. When workers finished removing the old paint, they found jerry-rigged wires and rusted bolts securing parts of the facade. “It was like putting pieces of a puzzle back together,” says Nevins. “But the problem-solving made it enjoyable.”

More a restoration than a repainting, the project required a particular primer, intermediate coat and a final cream-colored hue agreeable to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which applies strict guidelines to the landmarked Soho area.

“For a while, we were repairing and painting simultaneously,” says Williams. “Factoring in the weather, it all took about five months.”

By fall, the original beauty of 95 Greene had re-emerged. The cost of the project had risen to $625,000, but with the average unit fetching well over $4 million, nobody was complaining. In fact, everybody was delighted.

“This went from a building needing attention to one that looks like a historical landmark,” enthuses Nevins. “All the original details are sharp. It really pops.”

Farris, a Soho enthusiast even before he bought his apartment in 1985, agrees. “When I see the building now,” he says, “I think ‘Wow, I live there!’ I’m so proud.”

PROJECT PLAYERS – MANAGEMENT: Paul Brensilber at Jordan Cooper & Associates. ARCHITECT: Howard L. Zimmerman Architects. CONTRACTOR: DJM NYC. ENGINEER: Patrick Burgess with Zimmerman Architects.

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