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Deep Energy Retrofit at Clinton Hill Co-op

Written by Ann Farmer on April 03, 2019

Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

Co-op mounts a full-court press to improve energy efficiency, cut costs.

St. James Towers co-op in Brooklyn votes to stick with Mitchell-Lama.

St. James Towers is latest to vote on whether to stay affordable or cash in.

Adrian Griffith, the current president of the Ryerson Towers board, joined after the earlier capital improvements were already under way. The 326-unit Mitchell-Lama co-op in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn set out on a $3.5 million project to replace the windows and the boiler, do façade work, resurface balconies, and redo the roof. The 2008 loan for that work was secured from the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), which did not require the board to hire a construction manager. This time the loan — a refinancing of the underlying mortgage plus money for anticipated capital improvements — came from the city's Housing Development Corporation (HDC).

It was a massive job. Seven years ago, the board at Ryerson Towers, a 326-unit Mitchell-Lama co-op in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn, set out on a $3.5 million project to replace the windows and the boiler, do façade work, resurface balconies, and redo the roof. The job of coordinating the various contractors and overseeing the work fell to the property manager, Dahlia Lyons-Harrison, of New Bedford Management. Looking back, she remembers it as a largely successful — but stressful — assignment.

Today, as Ryerson Towers embarks on an even bigger job — a job that will take two years and $7.3 million.

If you think supermarket options are few and far between in Clinton Hill, then bad news. It looks like the Key Food on Lafayette Avenue is going the way of the dinosaur. According to DNAinfo, "Slate Property Group is in the process of buying the building at 325 Lafayette Avenue," and it looks they plan to demolish it to build condos in its place. The spokesperson for the owners of the Key Food told DNAinfo she could not give any more information beyond confirming the building was in the process of being sold. Nothing's set in stone just yet — the entire project is in the planning stages — so there is a chance, however great or slim, that the new developers might reserve space in the new building's ground floor for the grocery store. But until a definitive decision is made, neighborhood folks will remain anxious about the possibility of losing a convenient grocery store option. Who can blame them? Fewer stores means less competition and prices that inevitably creep upward. And if you don't have a car? Fuggedaboutit. Get ready for longer walks.

Even though leaks can be pervasive and costly, savvy condo and co-op boards can get something for nothing. "It's a no-brainer," says Steve Greenbaum, director of property management for Mark Greenberg Real Estate. When MGRE managed Clinton Hill, a 1,200-unit, 12-building complex in Brooklyn, the co-op conducted a water survey. (Clinton Hill is currently managed by AKAM Associates.)

Greenbaum is talking about a long-running but not heavily promoted program simply called the Residential Water Survey. Sponsored by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), it began in 1991 when the state was looking for ways to conserve water and now exists as one of the best (if not the best) un-promoted programs that can save your property money.

Erected in 1905, the rental building at 34 Jefferson Avenue in Brooklyn, where the Clinton Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhoods meet, has a tangled history. Tenants took the landlord to court in 1979 and won permission to move toward becoming a limited-equity Housing Development Fund Corporation (HDFC) co-op.

But after three years, virtually no steps had been taken toward converting the 66-unit building. In 2001, some residents came up with a strategy. If the building stopped paying its real estate taxes, it would eventually become delinquent and would then qualify for New York City's "Third Party Transfer" (TPT) program.

... co-op residents on Park Avenue win a victory over liquor sales, a new high-end condo is offering income-restricted apartments via lottery, co-op boards may be becoming more open to hardship sublets, and is Susan Sarandon your new neighbor in Brooklyn?

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