If you’re looking for a co-op CEO to be a part of the pit bull, you can’t do better than Jon Prial, a retired IBM executive who is now adamantly running his 262-unit Manhattan cooperative through a giant window. Replacement job – undeterred by the coronavirus pandemic.
“This project took years,” says Prial, who has been heavily involved in major capital projects for the cooperative since joining the board in 2013, including installing a boiler and replacing elevators. The old double-hanging windows were leaking air, which added to the noise and uneven heat in the building. “We have learned a lot about windows over the years and we finally decided last year that it was. We’re going to refinance our mortgage and put money aside for the windows so we don’t have to do maintenance or do a valuation. ”
The new interest rate mortgage had more than enough surplus to pay for the $ 2 million window job that replaced more than 1,600 windows and patio doors in the 16-story post-war building. With the money secured, Prial’s next step was to involve shareholders without the project turning into a fight over details. To that end, the board set up an email address for shareholders to voice questions and concerns, and then formed a five-person Windows committee that interviewed three architectural firms.
“We chose Bertolini Architectural Works because Oswald Bertolini is such a straight shooter,” says Prial. “He told us the biggest problem was the quality of the crews doing the removal and installation.”
Bertolini says, “We wanted the board to understand what they were buying.” Therefore, the company arranged for board members and committee members to visit showrooms and arranged visits from window manufacturers and installers to the cooperative. “We learned a lot about how windows are made,” says Prial. The board opted for double casement windows with argon gas between the panes, which increases thermal efficiency. Ecker Window Corp. was tasked with removing and installing it. “Howard Ecker instilled a lot of confidence,” says Prial. “They’ve been around for a long time and they were on the low end of the pricing range. In the end, you want a company with a long track record. “
While Ecker’s crews were measuring window openings – each window must be bespoke – the coronavirus pandemic hit and closed the job. After unneeded projects could be resumed, work began again – with a few changes.
“We’re going to slow the process down,” says Prial. “There will be fewer and fewer workers in the building at the same time and everyone will be wearing protective equipment. Each trapper is thrown away after we finish each apartment. The crews will wipe everything they touch. “But canceling the project because of the pandemic was never an option. That’s not how pit bulls work. “We didn’t want to stop,” says Prial. “We know that some people will be nervous about having workers in their homes, so we will be flexible and careful. But we are determined to make it happen. It is not an option for shareholders to postpone this indefinitely. “
Such words come as no surprise to the cooperative’s property manager. “This board doesn’t start anything and let it linger,” says Susan Trauner of Tudor Realty Services. “If you decide to do something, follow through. And they are very determined to move forward on this case. “
“We are excited about the value that we will add to the apartments – and the savings that we will see,” says Prial. “And we did it without rating.”
PRINCIPAL PLAYERS – ARCHITECT: Bertolini Architectural Works. REAL ESTATE MANAGER: Tudor Realty Services. MANUFACTURER: Northern Architectural Systems. INSTALLATOR: Ecker Window Corp.