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Deep Pockets to the Rescue of a Rusting Cast-Iron Gem

Bill Morris in Legal/Financial

The Bowery

Deep Pockets Rescue Cast Iron

The property manager, Jonathan Scutari of the Andrews Organization, adds, “The facade was neglected for many many years. Some of the cracked iron was just painted over. Parapets and decorative pieces on the Bowery entrance were replaced with sheet metal.”

The three residential unit-owners and the owner of the ground-floor commercial space decided that instead of making more Band-Aid repairs, they wanted to restore the building to its original glory. But who, in the midst of the current building frenzy, would be willing and able to deal with such an intricate, old-school job?

“We had difficulty finding a contractor who had experience in this kind of work,” says Scutari. “That was the hardest part, actually. The other part was dealing with the cast-iron drawings and molds.”

The first step was hiring Traditional Waterproofing and Restoration, Inc, of Astoria, Queens, as the contractor. The second, much trickier step, was tracking down a specialist in Belgium, Peter van Cronenburg, who could make drawings that replicated the 2,000 damaged cast-iron pieces on the building’s exterior. Additional companies were found that could translate van Cronenburg’s drawings into molds, then pour molten iron into the molds.

And now the ticklish question: How to pay for this job, with its undisclosed, but obviously astronomical, price tag? The answer turned out to be simple: Deep pockets.
“It was all paid for through assessments (to the four owners), spread over the course of 12 months,” says Scutari.

While such a tidy solution is available to few co-op and condo boards faced with major capital improvements, it’s reassuring to know that in a city that seems determined to erase its past in the never-ending quest for the fabulous and the new, there are people who are willing to spend big money to preserve a jewel from the past.

The old bank building at the corner of Bond Street and the Bowery will soon look much as it did when it opened its doors in 1874. And all of New York City will be richer for it.

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