- Community room renovation cost was $8,500 more than original quote of $73,000 — the additional money was used for new chairs, tables, and window treatments.
- The coop has refinanced its underlying mortgage of $23.5 million with an interest rate reduction from 4% to 3.5%. The new financing allows for a $5 million line of credit that the newsletter says “serves as a reserve fund.”
- Looks like that reserve fund will come in handy, as laundry room / sewer reconstruction costs are adding up. Building 4 cost a total of $283,700. Building 2 was higher, at $469,500. (Building 3 is set to start Monday, and building 1 will be next.)
FROM: SHULIE WOLLMAN
RE: BUILDING 2 LAUNDRY ROOM OPENING TODAY
We are pleased to report the opening of the Building 2 Laundry Room today at 5PM.
Thank you again for your patience, and we very much appreciate your support and understanding during this repair period.
We’ll bring you photos and testimonials as soon as we can.
Building 1 laundry room will be shut down Wednesday along with all hot water — which means cooperators from building 2, where laundry room excavation continues, will have to cross Grand Street if they want clean clothes.
Here’s the basic message from General Manager Harold Jacob: if you thought building 4’s laundry room was a catastrophe, wait til you see building 2!
June 16, 2015
TO: EAST RIVER COOPERATORS
573 / 575 / 577 GRAND STREET
D / E / F – SECTIONS
FROM: HAROLD JACOB, GENERAL MANAGER
RE: DRAIN PIPES REPAIR UPDATE
The laundry room in Building 2 remains closed due to the fact that all the drain lines that feed into the main sewer line are rotted away.
This job is more complicated than in Building 4 which recently had similar leaks, because when they built Building 2, they buried all the lines under the ground, in some areas it is about 7 feet deep. All the excavation is being done by hand and buckets. We have already dug into the filter room, pump room and electric room. We have exposed all the lines there. We are now digging into the laundry room. We have already located 5 leaking lines and the water continues to flow from under the laundry room. In addition, we found 3 buried electric lines which have to be replaced as well. There will also be a need to shut down the water when we replace one of the main drain lines. We will notify you in advance.
Our plumber estimates that it is going to take approximately 5 weeks more to identify and repair all of the leaks. We will then have to backfill each of the holes, pour concrete and replace the tiles in the laundry room. The plumber and the supplier estimate we will not totally complete this job until the week of July 20. We hope to locate all of the leaks within this time frame. Any cooperator who wishes to see the excavation can call the office and I will arrange a walk-through.
We regret the inconvenience it causes but unfortunately there is no way to plan ahead on how to determine that the water and/or electric lines would rot away.
In the meantime you may continue using any of the other laundry rooms in Buildings 1, 3 or 4.
We will keep you updated. As always I highly recommend you to sign up for our e-mail notifications at http://coopvillage.coop/EmailSignup.php.
Residents of building 4 received this email today:
May 21, 2015
FROM: HAROLD JACOB, GENERAL MANAGER
RE: BUILDING 4 LAUNDRY ROOM
After an arduous period of pipe and floor repair and replacement, we are happy to report the reopening of the laundry room in Building 4, on Friday, May 22, at 6 p.m.
As you know, Building 4 underwent a sewer line rupture requiring extensive replacement of the main sewer pipe for the entire building, coupled with the total rebuilding and replacement of all nine drain lines under the laundry room floor. It was a very big job and as the work proceeded underground we continued to find new problems and it was the determination of Management and the Board to fix and repair all these problems at one time.
Once the pipes had been removed and replaced, the floor in the laundry required new concrete and tiles. It was after that process that most of the laundry machines were placed back and connected. A few machines will not be able to be hooked up until June 3, but we wanted to reopen the room as soon as possible.
Due to the length of time these repairs took, we understand the frustration cooperators experienced not having access to their laundry room, but there was no alternative, and we wanted the work to be done now and be done right.
Our buildings are sixty years old and though we do not look or wish for things to happen, we realize that when they do, events will inconvenience cooperators and disrupt our normal routines, until repairs are complete. Our pipes and sewer lines, as we all know, are mostly behind our apartment walls or underground and cannot be checked without digging up our property or breaking everyone’s kitchen and bathroom walls. This prohibitive cost and destruction are things that we will of course not subject our cooperators to.
We hope you enjoy the repaired laundry room and apologize for the discomfort this outage has caused. We will work to keep the new laundry room clean and trouble free for your use for the next sixty years!
Thank you for your patience and we very much appreciate your support and understanding during this repair period.
Board member Lee Berman has provided a few more details about the emergency repair of the laundry room in building 4.
Apparently the first sign of trouble was raw sewage leaking into the pump room. The leak was traced back to pipes underneath the laundry room. After excavation was started, it was revealed that leaking sewage had washed away some of the sand and earth supporting the laundry room’s reinforced concrete floor, necessitating its replacement.
According to Lee, the board was recently informed that the cost of repair will be north of $200,000.
So far unknown is whether sewer pipes under any of the other three buildings are suffering from the same problem.
When sewer pipes enter their seventh decade of use, this is what they look like.
The question is now, can preventative maintenance in the other three buildings save money in the long run? Or is sitting back and waiting for another sink hole to open up our only real option?
Because if the sewer pipes look like this under building 4, they probably don’t look much different under buildings 1, 2, and 3.
The strategy at East River for years has been to keep maintenance as low as possible. That’s an admirable goal, keeping this corner of Manhattan livable and affordable for families old and new. The cost of major upgrades and repairs — like the boiler room and local law 11 facade work — has been added to our underlying mortgage through interest-only loans in order to protect current cooperators from higher monthly fees and assessments. (This is a not uncommon strategy.)
Recently it was revealed that the coop is seeking a $5 million line of credit for anticipated repairs and maintenance, so there’s no indication that the current board has any interest in changing course.
The coop also maintains no reserve fund for unanticipated repairs, and has not conducted any study of the costs of future repairs and maintenance. Which means it should not actually be a surprise when the 60-year-old laundry room turns into a money pit.
Earlier this week, management emailed an update to cooperators in building 4 with apologies for the inconvenience, closing with: “This job has been very difficult and very hard to estimate because we did not know what we would find when we started digging.”
You can say that again. And again and again.
Here’s an update from management on the mess in building 4:
May 11, 2015
TO: EAST RIVER HOUSING COOPERATORS
473/475/477 FDR DRIVE
K / L / M – SECTIONS
FROM: HAROLD JACOB, GENERAL MANAGER
RE: DRAIN LINE REPAIR UPDATE
Dear East River Cooperators:
Unfortunately the job is not going as fast as I had wished. We were supposed to start pouring concrete tomorrow and finish it by Wednesday, but we have found another piece of concrete floor cracked, four feet by eight feet.
Therefore, we have to take out that piece of concrete floor, which will be done tomorrow and Wednesday.
I am hoping to pour new concrete on Thursday and Friday. Then we will have to wait for the concrete to dry before we put down new tiles. Only when they dry we will be able to re-connect the washing machines.
I believe that the most optimistic time for the laundry room to be re-open is the weekend of May 22-24.
This job has been very difficult and very hard to estimate because we did not know what we would find when we started digging.
I will continue to keep you updated.