Tom Soter in Bricks & Bucks on March 30, 2016
The Newport is living up to the “new” portion of its name. In a little under two years, its board, like an expert juggler, has undertaken one project after another in an impressive portrait of coordination, cooperation, and organization. Most impressive of all, this board never drops the ball.
But that shouldn’t be surprising: the 342-unit complex is a big property, with a board that thinks big. Sitting on an entire block, from 75th to 76th Streets along First Avenue, the building was built in 1966, has three wings and, according to board member Andrew Weiss, houses a wide range of people – “everyone from young singles who are just out of college to families to retirees.”
The problems began surfacing in early 2015. The boilers were breaking down frequently. “They were more than 35 years old, and they had probably gone to the end of their useful life,” recalls Weiss. “The building [residents] wanted the building to become more green, so at that point in time, we faced a choice. We could either continue repairing the old boilers, or we could put in boilers that we thought would be more energy-efficient and better for the environment.”
The funding came from the reserves, which will be repaid through dramatic energy savings once “we begin running the boilers on gas,” Weiss says. “In fact, by having the boilers turned on for the 2016 winter season, we hope to save approximately $200,000.”
The boiler project started in the midst of a hallway renovation. “The hallways took us a substantially long time because of the size and the amount of work and product that we needed,” says Martin Mirkin, the co-op board’s president for the past 26 years. “The biggest challenge was getting access to the apartments, because we put in new door handles and new door sills, so we had to enter the apartments multiple times.” Mirkin credits super Jimmy Necaj for his work coordinating the job.
Since hallways involve aesthetics – i.e., controversy – the board was smart enough to present three sample designs for the residents to inspect, meaning that the hallways were redesigned with a minimum of fuss. Mirkin estimates that the hallways took “a good four to five months and ran us about a million plus.” The work began in January 2015 and ended in July 2015.
From September to November that year, one of the co-op’s three roofs was leaking, which the board dealt with by undertaking a total roof replacement over the C wing of the complex, which stretches along 76th Street. That took two months and cost about $200,000.
Next came the need to replace the chillers. The reason: the central air conditioning wasn’t doing the job. The AC was run on 21-year-old chillers and “we were experiencing short periods of downtime during the summer,” Weiss recalls. “We knew from estimates that were given to us that we were going to be getting more breakdowns, so we decided to replace them.”
Another reason to do the job were the incentives, totalling about $250,000, that were offered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) for installing newer, more energy-efficient equipment. The chillers cost about $1.3 million, says Mirkin, who adds the co-op offset some of the cost with an assessment and proceeds from a 2 percent flip tax. “We have the possibility of getting a rebate for $150,000 from Con Ed, too,” he adds. This project began in October and is still underway; the board expects it to be completed in early May.
Has the building done enough project juggling? Probably not. A clue that the board isn’t slowing down is that the co-op recently refinanced its underlying mortgage. Why? The board wants to refurbish the lobby. “After 18 years, it needs to be upgraded,” says Mirkin, matter-of-factly. “So we’re doing it.”
PROJECT PLAYERS – PROPERTY MANAGER: Justin Poy at Douglas Elliman Property Management. CONTRACTORS (PARTIAL LIST): Controlled Combustion; En-Power Group; Metco; George Bassolino Plumbing.
Co-op and condo board business broken down into bite-sized bits - 2 stories each week. Read now on all digital devices.
A free digital resource for co-op/condo board directors. Published twice a month. Read now on all digital devices.