Tom Soter in Bricks & Bucks
The project was a long time coming and it couldn’t come a moment too soon for Sarah Moffitt. Two board presidents had come and gone, but the much-discussed roof-replacement project at the Parkside Association, a co-op in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, had still not come to fruition. It was personal for Moffitt, who has lived in the 89-year-old building for eight years: she had leaks in her apartment.
“Through the years some patchwork repair has been done to both the parapet wall and the roof,” reports Moffitt, who became the board president about three years ago in an effort to address the need for a roof replacement. “It's a very big job,” she says.
Others had sung that song before. “We'd have a president who'd say, ‘We need a new roof,’ who'd start doing research, reach the end of their term, and then pass off the research to the new president,” recalls Moffitt. “The next president would come in and they're basically starting over from scratch. There was a lack of continuity. When I got the information, I said, ‘OK. We're going to do it.’ I was going to try to stay on the board until we got the job underway, so that we wouldn’t have a continuity problem."
The board talked to “a couple of engineers” before hiring RAND Engineering & Architecture in January 2015. After RAND wrote the specs, the board reviewed bids from five companies and chose Proto Construction that summer, primarily because of cost. Also, says Moffitt, “they've been around for a while and they're a family-run company, which we liked.”
Another wrinkle: the building is one of the oldest co-ops in New York City in a neighborhood once known as “Finntown,” which is listed (as the Sunset Park Historic District) on the National Register of Historic Places. As such, the shareholders could be eligible for a tax credit based on the total cost of the job and the accuracy of any restoration. “We have to make sure that the registry is informed of any aesthetic changes,” explains Valerie Landriscina, the project associate on the job for RAND. “It's a very detail-oriented job. They said they wanted to make sure we're not changing the historic fabric of the building.”
The project – which included a new roof and parapet, some repair and a full cleaning of the facade, and the time-consuming conversion of a dumbwaiter chute into closet space – was budgeted at $1.2 million, which meant the board would have to raise maintenance and take out an underlying mortgage. The building has a mixed tenancy of older residents on a fixed income and younger, more recent arrivals. The board felt it was important to keep everyone informed.
“We had been mortgage-free for a very, very long time,” says Moffitt – since 1973, to be precise. “It was a big deal for everyone in the building. We did have to do a lot of communication to the shareholders. There was a little bit of a split. Most of the building was really in favor of it.”
The board is hoping to offset the costs by installing a solar panel on the roof (although not as part of this project). “We're hoping when that is done, that will also help cover some of this additional cost for people by lowering the electricity bills,” says Moffitt. “That's always a concern for us, that our building remain affordable.”
RAND’s Landriscina predicts the job will be completed in November. Moffitt, who stepped down from the board recently, offers this advice to those with looming capital projects: “You just have to make a decision and get it done. Just do it.”
PROJECT PLAYERS – MANAGEMENT: Self-managed. CONTRACTOR: Proto Restoration and Construction. ENGINEER: RAND Engineering & Architecture.
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