Tom Soter in Bricks & Bucks on March 27, 2013
The month was August, the year was 2010, and the great elevator replacement project was about to begin. The buildings, two of which kiss the northwest corner of Central Park, certainly don’t seem old enough for such a major overhaul. They were erected in 1988 at the midpoint of a cross-street named for the massive Cathedral of St. John the Divine nearby. Nonetheless, a report by Vertical Systems Analysis, the engineering consultant to the association, found that simple patchwork was no longer sufficient: the equipment was rapidly becoming more out-of-date and thus harder to maintain. The condo would save more money in the long run by replacing all seven elevators that serviced the 599 units in the buildings. “We thought we could benefit by improved technology,” Reynolds notes.
New features that had to comply with current code requirements included: a new microprocessor, a new alternating current motor and solid state alternating current motor drive; new cab and hoistway door operating equipment; new signals, fixtures, and wiring; and new cab interiors.
The condo board went through a laborious process, interviewing five contractors before choosing BP Elevator. BP then made regular reports to the board as the January to March 2012 project progressed. (The bidding process and other preliminary work began in November 2011 and final sign-offs were in May 2012.)
Such a project — involving downtiming elevators that most of 599 unit-owners owners rely on — could have been a logistical nightmare. But the board, employing e-mail and posted paper notices, informed the owners of the work weeks before it happened. The board was also lucky because the replacement job did not affect most residents as severely as it might have, since each building had at least two elevators. That meant that, while one elevator was closed down for its rehab, its sister cab could continue ferrying people to their destinations. The working hours were from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays. “We did not have much disruption,” Reynolds notes. “But top-floor owners experienced more noise and vibration, because the elevator room is on the top floor, where the work was being handled,” adds Christine Ang, the resident manager, and an employee of Tudor Realty.
The project went without a hitch and the condo now has seven spanking-new elevators
The buildings are populated by young professionals and long-timers, like Reynolds, who, she notes with a laugh, are becoming part of a growing senior population.
As for the board’s “vision” of the future, it’s pretty nuts and bolts. “We believe in ongoing maintenance,” Reynolds says, pointing to a landscaping job completed a few years ago, sidewalk replacement, addition of security cameras and roof replacement. Window replacement and a lobby upgrade are possible future projects. “One of the issues is all the packages through Internet shopping, so we have packages coming in by the load and we need something for that.”
Lessons for others? “In every capital improvement job, the management company makes a huge difference," Reynolds says. "They have knowledge of all the vendors around town. The board is not made up of engineers, we’re not specialists. They are able to provide the connection to people we need. They also made us understand what to expect, what the timeline might be, and the price spread. My advice is get a good management company. But you should still keep involved with everything.”
Christine Ang, Tudor Realty
Began in November 2011 and completed May 2012.
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