From time to time the board or the managing agent will post important announcements here.

Sometimes notices that are distributed to shareholders or tenants  or notices that are posted in the lobby will also be posted here, though, for various policy reasons, not every notice will be posted here.

Blackout - Postmortem Report and Next Steps

posted Jul 26, 2019, 2:34 PM by Marc Donner

West Side Blackout


In our previous update, dated July 18, we reported on several system failures experienced by 205 West End Avenue in consequence of the July 13 blackout.


In this report we will summarize what we have learned in investigating these failures and what plans management has agreed with the board to address the failures.


The Cogen System


While we have been testing the cogen system quarterly, it failed on July 13th.


The root of the problem was a failed cooling pump and a failed battery.  Because of the blackout the network connection used by the maintenance company was down, making it impossible for them to diagnose the problems.  And the blackout conditions made travel time for their technician much longer than anticipated, so he arrived at 205 after power was restored by the utility.


We will be taking two primary actions to remedy this weakness:

  1. We will test the blackout capability of the cogen system monthly instead of quarterly until such time as we are confident that the system is as reliable as we want it to be.  In fact, we conducted a test, which was successful, on July 19th.
  2. We will train most or all of the staff in how to transition the cogen system to blackout emergency generator status.  Five members of our staff had been trained.


The Emergency Lighting System


We learned several important things:

      The emergency lighting system is only rated to provide 90 minutes of lighting.

      Many of our lights failed in significantly less time than the rating.

      Most other buildings affected by the blackout experienced similar failures of these emergency lighting systems.


The board and management have agreed to pursue the following plan of action:

      We are evaluating passive luminescent tape that we can apply in the stairways.  These absorb ambient light and reemit it for about 90 minutes.

      We will test samples of our backup lighting systems to see how reliable their batteries are.

      We will explore the marketplace in cooperation with AKAM to see if there are more reliable products available to replace our current emergency lighting system.


The Elevators


The elevator system is designed to lower the car to the nearest floor and open the doors.


The elevator controller opens the doors of occupied cars once they are safely at a floor.  The controller relies on weight sensors built into the cars to tell which cars are occupied.


The motors that move the elevators, along with their power supplies and their computerized controllers are all located in a structure on the roof of the building called a head house.  Because the system produces a lot of heat, each head house is equipped with an air conditioner to keep the equipment at an appropriate operating temperature.


One of the A/C units had failed, so the temperature in that head house was too high, resulting in the emergency control system failing.  As it happened, the one elevator that was occupied at the time of the blackout happened to be under that head house.  The elevator did lower itself to within a few inches of the floor below, but failed to open its door.


Building staff have taken these actions in response:

  1. Replaced the failed A/C unit in the head house.
  2. Added the two head houses to the regular inspection schedule.
  3. And we will develop and implement a test for safe recovery behavior and add it to our monthly test program.


Front Desk Telephones


The power outage rendered our FIOS installation inoperable.  The telephone system complexity is too great for us to be able to adopt a simple solution, so we will work to enhance the reliability of our front desk phones.


We intend to work with our telephone service provider to establish the ability for our main number (1-212-496-5218) to ring through to several instruments at the desk, including one or more cell phones, regardless of the availability of power at the front desk.


Trust But Verify


Our system is well designed and should be capable of weathering a blackout like the one we experienced on July 13th with far fewer failures.


Obviously, good design alone is not enough.  While we had implemented a testing regime that checked what we thought were the critical systems on a quarterly basis, this schedule was clearly inadequate.


In addition, it is clear that our testing regime must include more components and more potential failure modes than we had previously though necessary.  Lesson learned.


We will be implementing a monthly blackout test schedule going forward.  The board will review these monthly results with management at each board meeting.


As time passes we will develop a way to report on our test results to the community.

Blackout - System Failures and Action Plan

posted Jul 18, 2019, 7:08 AM by Marc Donner

West Side Blackout

As you all know by now, there was a blackout on the evening of July 13.  The blackout began at 6:47 p.m., according to news reports of a Con Ed press release, and ended sometime about 10 p.m.


Geographically, the blackout extended from 72nd Street down to somewhere in the 40s and from Fifth Avenue west to the Hudson River.  The New York Times quotes Con Ed as attributing the failure to a problem at a substation on West 49th Street.


The Cogen System

Our electricity cogeneration system is designed to provide emergency power to the building in cases when the power grid goes down.  It is configured to ensure that one elevator on each side of the building is operational during a blackout, as well as lights in the main lobby, the stairways, and in the elevator lobbies on each floor from two up.


Building staff conduct regular tests of this capability three times each year.


To our dismay, the cogen system was out of service during the blackout.  We are investigating the reasons for this outage with our maintenance vendor.


The Emergency Lighting System

Both sets of stairs in the building are equipped with emergency lighting systems powered by batteries that are kept charged while grid power is available.


These batteries are rated to keep the lights on for two hours during a power outage.


We have heard reports that these lights were out from shortly after the power outage began.


These lights are supposed to be tested by LTCA Security staff on their regular vertical inspections of our stairways.


We intend to find out whether these batteries are discharging faster than their two-hour rating, resulting in a system that passes the standard test but fails under real conditions, or if there is some other failure at play.


The Elevators

When we renovated the elevators several years ago we upgraded the traction motors that raise and lower the cars.


In the process we implemented a safety system, required in new elevator installations, designed to lower each car to a nearby floor and open the doors in the event of a power outage or other failure.


In Saturday’s outage the elevators did correctly lower themselves to the nearest lower floor, but they did not open their doors as expected, thus trapping people in various cars and requiring intervention by building staff.


We are working with our elevator maintenance company to understand why the doors failed to open automatically.


Front Desk Telephones

Residents attempting to call the front desk during the blackout were unable to get through.


We do not know precisely what failure happened to cause this.  We have had reports that the blackout affected cellphone service, so providing the front desk with a cellphone might not have helped things.


We have also had reports that, unlike in past eras, the blackout interrupted land line service as well.


In some cases this may be because the FIOS and other services that have replaced the old copper landline service in our building have been installed without battery backup or because the batteries have failed.  Each resident is responsible for their own unit’s battery backup, so you should consult your phone service vendor.


The building needs a reliable way for residents to reach the front desk under all circumstances and we intend to investigate the reported failures and work with our telephone service providers to identify and implement a solution that enables us to ensure the ability to reach the front desk at all times.


Thank you to Jose and our staff!

The board would like to express particular gratitude on behalf of all of our residents to Jose and his building staff for their excellent response to this blackout.  They mobilized rapidly, they checked in with many elderly residents to ensure their comfort and safety, they walked residents up the stairs with flashlights, and they were just generally wonderful!

Summary of the 33nd Annual Meeting of 205 West End Avenue Owner’s Corporation

posted May 25, 2019, 6:05 AM by Marc Donner

Keith Bleiweiss, our Certified Public Accountant from Newman, Newman & Kaufman, LLP, led us through a comprehensive review of our financials, for both the Coop and the Condo. All this information can be found in the 2018 Financial Reports mailed to you in the package containing the formal Meeting Announcement. Net, net, we are very healthy financially, however our Reserves coverage ideally needs to increase from its current ratio of just under 1.5 to 3 months.  This was expected due to the numerous capital improvements we completed over the past several years.

This should not be a concern as we don’t see any major capital expenses on the horizon and our maintenance arrears are insignificant, but the Board is working on a plan to bring it to industry standard at approximately 3 month’s expense coverage.

Next, Stu Sugarman gave the report for the Board:


President's Comments - 2019 Annual Shareholders' Meeting

Good evening.  As the president of our Board of Directors it has been my pleasure to serve you this past year.  My colleagues on the board, Ellie Applewhaite, Abigail Burns, Larry Chaifetz, Marc Donner, Ernie Sander and Rob Stein, have committed their personal time and energy in service to our community. In recognition of their contributions, I’d like to personally thank them for their hard work and dedication.

As usual, this past year has been a very busy one. I’ll highlight some of these activities. If you can hold your questions until I finish, I would appreciate it.

  • We completed the work on the balconies: replacing the railings, the partitions and the concrete on the fascia, along with installing new steel rebar in the new curb for additional structural stability and applying a multi-layer waterproof coating to all balcony surfaces, including flooring, roof and fascia.

Due to multiple factors, including bad weather, DOB mandated delays, and the need for additional unanticipated and very time-consuming work, this project took longer to complete than planned.


Two such unanticipated elements were: significant core drilling and patching of weak spots in both the balcony floor and roof, and the repair of over 20 broken drainpipes.


This project will give us many years of maintenance-free enjoyment of our balconies, enable us to comply with regulatory mandates, and has made the building much more attractive.

Budgeted at $3.8 million, this project was funded half from reserves and half from increasing our current mortgage at an Extremely favorable rate. ($2 million @4.45% for 26 years)

It should be noted than none of these delays increased the overall project cost as this was a fixed-price contract. Additionally, we received performance penalties that helped reduce the overall cost of the project. Even with the additional work elements, the project came in on budget.

  • In addition to the balcony work, the contractor also completed Local Law 11 leak repairs to our building’s façade.

  • With the completion of our construction, the Landscaping Committee, headed by board member Rob Stein, is in the midst of a complete restoration of the landscaping in front of the building. This

is a big job as we are basically starting from scratch. We hope you will find it pleasing when completed in several weeks, and the new landscaping has time to grow and mature.


  • As an outgrowth of last year’s Annual Meeting, we created a Bicycle Room Committee, headed by board member Ernie Sander. This committee has engineered a complete redesign of the bike room, with new lighting, brightly colored paint, better ventilation and with the installation of a new state-of-the-art bike racking system. The new racking system will comfortably hold 200 bikes.  Although the older system was designed to hold 200 bikes, the upper racks were unwieldy and thus bikes were strewn all over the room.

Additionally, the Committee found car tires, strollers, etc. – none of which belonged in the bicycle room. By cleaning out the room and removing unregistered bikes, over 40 slots opened and were assigned to those on the waiting list.

With the room now complete, and once all bikes are returned to their assigned slots, we anticipate finding some available slots to accommodate additional shareholders on the waiting list.

  • The Community Room Committee, created last year and headed by board member Abigail Burns, will ensure that the Community Room is best serving the entire 205 population. A survey was sent out to all shareholders late last year to get a feel for the kind of activities they should be considering.  The Community Room is now being refurbished to make it more pleasing and functional; an aerobics class has already been added, and other classes for shareholders are in the works.

  • As always, the Board focuses on expense management.  Led by our Treasurer, Rob Stein, we delivered a 2019 budget calling for a maintenance increase of 6.5%, much higher than in any of our past 10 years. Most of this was due to the increase in real estate taxes levied by NYC.  Although we have always retained a tax certiorari attorney to help reduce the impact of real estate taxes, this year we interviewed and hired a new certiorari who we feel will do a better job for us.

  • The Gym Committee, led by board member Larry Chaifetz, responded to member requests and added a pull-up bar.

  • We had our building’s insurance carrier, HUB, perform a risk assessment. The results were quite encouraging, and the few minor items identified were quickly resolved by Mark and Jose.

  • We acquired two new Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), one for the gym and one for the front desk.  Three training sessions on CPR/AED have already been held by the Red Cross. We’ve had great shareholder attendance.

  • We are launching a trial compost program next month, which was a shareholder suggestion from our February informational meeting.  We will monitor its usage to determine if we want to make it permanent.

  • As a normal Board function, we review for approval all purchase and refinance applications. These applications are quite large and very detailed. In 2018, the Board reviewed 14 purchase applications, four refinance applications and two transfer applications. These entail a lot of work for the Board, but is a critical function to ensure the financial stability of the Coop.  Additionally, all new prospective shareholders are interviewed by the Interview Committee, headed up by board member Ellie Applewhaite, who would be pleased to add new members to the committee.

 

  • And last, but not least, windows and hallways.

With the completion of our Local Law 11 project, the Board is now beginning to look at potential capital projects.


There are two major capital projects on our radar:

  1. Window Replacement

  2. Hallway Renovation

Window Replacement


As you can imagine, this would be an expensive and very disruptive project.  Very preliminary estimates for this project are in excess of $6 Million.


Additionally, residents will need to remove any built-in window treatments and the contractor will need to erect bridgework for the length of the project.

The Board has just begun to scratch the surface on this potential project, so please do not expect any decision or action on this soon.

Since this is not a near-term project, we encourage you to continue to report any window issues to the management office.  Our staff have expertise supported by ample supplies and can quickly rectify many window complaints.

Hallway Renovation:

Although the building staff does a great job maintaining our hallways, our hallway design is over twelve years old and a few shareholders have suggested that the Cooperative would benefit by updating the look. Although we do not have a definitive estimate, based on our prior renovation, we feel that it will be about $1.5 million.

Since this is also not a near-term project, building staff will continue to work to keep the hallways looking as fresh as possible.  Jose just completed an examination of each hallway and compiled a “repair” list.


They have already begun to give a fresh coat of paint to those hallway, elevator, compactor and apartment doors that need it.   We have an ample supply of hallway materials. We will replace stained and damaged carpeting and damaged wallpaper, and we will re-caulk and paint crown moldings where required.  We intend to keep the hallways in good repair until such time as we renovate them.

If you see something in your hallway that needs repair, please contact AKAM.

Mark and Jose continue to spend considerable effort to ensure we keep the building running at peak efficiency.  This includes the ongoing maintenance of our water, steam, and control systems, upgrades of our window components, the effective running of our cogeneration plant, the repair of water leaks from our facade, and regular training for our building staff.

And, as we know, Mark and Jose go out of their way to service you, the shareholders. A small handful of examples of their service orientation are:

  • Reworking our hot water systems such that they operate at peak performance. I hope you are enjoying your hot shower.

  • Setting up a rotating maintenance schedule to ensure all kitchen drain lines are clear in order to prevent clogs which can cause backflows with resultant apartment damage.

  • With the conclusion of the LL11 project, helping shareholders restore their balcony belongings, cleaning windows, repairing screens and cleaning air conditioners.

  • Handling numerous NYC-mandated local laws around elevator door locks, staff training on sexual harassment, energy efficiency audits and many more.

  • Contracting for 3rd party purchase of electricity and gas at the lowest rates.

  • Obtaining and installing new smoke detectors with a ten-year battery life.

  • Helping shareholders insulate around their ACs and cover them during the winter months.

  • Painting all outside railings and curbs that surround this building now that the construction is done.

Looking forward:

Going forward, we plan to be as tough on spending as possible, consistent with prudent operation of the building and provision of services to shareholders.  205 is known as one of the most economical of the co-ops in Lincoln Towers, with an average growth in maintenance costs over the past decade that is the lowest of the eight buildings.  Including this year, the 10-year average increase is 3.32% per year.

For 2019, we delivered a budget with a 6.5% maintenance increase; however, 205 still has the lowest cost per share within Lincoln Towers. ($4.25/share) The 2019 increase was distressing to the board.  This increase was almost entirely due to increases in real estate taxes.  In order to prevent a recurrence and in hope of getting some of the increase rolled back, the board has engaged a new tax certiorari attorney.  As I indicated before, this board is very proactive when it comes to ensuring we keep our expenses as low as possible, while still providing a high level of shareholder services and building operations.

We continue to work with our managing agent on updating our multi-year capital plan. Based on the numerous capital projects already completed over the past 5 years, we don’t expect any new major capital projects in our near future. We have some minor ones to complete, mostly pertaining to DOB code changes.

It should be emphasized that all our recent capital improvements have been funded from reserves and from the building’s low-interest mortgage.  For these capital improvements, such as the lobby, the roof, the gym, the elevators, the driveway, the landscaping, Community Room and Bike Room, etc., there has been no impact on shareholder maintenance.  For the balcony/façade work, the impact was minimal.

So, I’ve covered a lot of ground here, and I’ll open the floor for questions on these topics.  Be assured, there will be ample time for general Q&A, on any topic you like, after the formal meeting is adjourned.

At this point the floor was opened for questions.  

Numerous questions and comments were raised, and a lively discussion ensued.

Nomination of Director Candidates

We then proceeded to vote on the item referred to in the notice of annual meeting and proxy statement.  Seven incumbent directors and one additional shareholder were standing for election.

The candidates are, in alphabetical order:

  • Eleanor Applewhaite

  • Abigail Burns

  • Larry Chaifetz

  • Marc Donner

  • Reshma Rughwani

  • Robert Stein

  • Ernie Sander

  • Stuart Sugarman

In accordance with the offering plan, the sponsor is exercising its right to designate one member in addition to our seven.


Reshma Rughwani was recognized by the President and asked to introduce herself as she was a new candidate and not well known to many of the attendees.

These 8 candidates were nominated, and nominations were then closed.

Since we had 8 candidates for 7 Director positions, ballots and proxies will be counted in the management office tomorrow morning at 9AM, in the presence of two inspectors of elections.  As such, we needed two inspectors. Two shareholders volunteered to perform this function.

With elections complete and having no other formal business on the agenda, a motion to adjourn this meeting was passed and we then proceeded to the general Q&A.

Again, a lively discussion was held, several follow items were noted, and the meeting was adjourned at about 8:45PM.

ELECTION RESULTS


After counting all of the ballots on the morning of 5/21, the following were the results:


The following shareholders were elected to the Board of Directors for the year 2019-2020:

  • Eleanor Applewhaite

  • Abigail Burns

  • Larry Chaifetz

  • Marc Donner

  • Ernest Sander

  • Robert Stein

  • Stu Sugarman

We would also like to thank Reshma Rughwani for her interest and participation in the Annual Meeting.

2019 Maintenance Letter

posted Dec 27, 2018, 6:09 PM by Marc Donner   [ updated Dec 27, 2018, 6:12 PM ]

Dear Fellow Shareholders:

The Board, supported by the building’s accountant and management staff, has reviewed the financial projections for year-end 2018 and has approved an operating budget for 2019.

2018 Summary

205 West End Owners Corporation (Coop) will finish 2018 with an anticipated operating deficit of $295,900. Unfortunately in 2018, our actual expenditures were more than our budget forecast primarily in utilities/energy costs (colder than expected winter and variability of costs), payroll/benefits and repairs & maintenance (overall upkeep of the building during the construction project and unexpected plumbing repairs).

We thank all residents for their patience as the Local Law 11 balcony project was completed over the summer. The actual total cost of the project was $4.0 million compared to the budgeted cost of $3.8 million. As noted previously, the project was funded equally from a combination of non-operating reserves ($2 million) and additional borrowing ($2 million) on our existing mortgage. A detailed review of these non-operating costs will be discussed at upcoming Shareholders’ Meetings.

2019 Budget

Due to the 2018 operating budget deficit of $295,900 for the Coop (noted above) and projected increases in 2019 expenses for real estate taxes, utilities/energy and payroll/benefits; shareholders can expect a 6.50% maintenance increase (for a total of $4.2525 per share per month) in 2019.

Here is how 2018 looks thus far, along with our budget projections for 2019:

● Real Estate Taxes - budgeted at $5,712,700 for 2018 is projected to end 2018 at $5,706,300. In 2019 we expect to pay real estate taxes of $6,122,400, an increase of $409,700 or approximately 4.0% over 2018 budgeted maintenance of $10,352,700.

This is the major driver of this year’s maintenance increase and has significantly impacted our budgets for the last few years (taxes have increased over $950,000 or 9.2% since 2016). The Board continues to aggressively work with our accountants and tax attorneys to ensure the assessed value and tax rates are accurate in order for this us to pay the proper amount.

● Utilities/Energy (steam heat, electricity, co-gen gas and water/sewer) - budgeted at a combined cost of $1,609,100 for 2018. While final bills are still to be presented, the projected energy expenditures in these categories are forecast in 2018 to be approximately $1,747,900. In 2019 we expect to pay combined costs of $1,689,100, an increase of $80,000 or approximately 1% over 2018 budgeted maintenance of $10,352,700.

The Board and AKAM’s Energy Department continue to review and monitor our energy costs very closely in order to project future costs as accurately as possible based upon negotiated rates and estimated consumption.

● Staff Payroll/Benefits (wages, union benefits, payroll taxes, workers compensation, and disability insurance) – budgeted at a combined cost $1,539,000 for 2018 is projected to end 2018 at $1,598,500. In 2019 we expect to pay combined costs of $1,681,000 an increase of $142,000 or approximately 1.4% over 2018 budgeted maintenance of $10,352,700.

As always, many of our expenses are not under the board and management’s direct control. Labor costs are set by union contracts; insurance rates are dictated by carriers; energy prices by the market; and taxes, water, and sewer charges by the City. The Board consistently tries to be both prudent in our expenditures and to make full use of opportunities to contribute to our building’s overall financial health. This includes reviewing and reducing costs whenever and wherever possible. Final numbers for 2018 are still to be confirmed. They will be audited by our accountant and reviewed with you at our annual Shareholders’ Meeting in the Spring. As in previous years, we will be recouping some of the increased operating costs by retaining the NYC real estate tax rebate due most shareholders in the first quarter of 2019. You will see a credit/debit journal entry on your June statement. From an accounting standpoint this is treated as an operating assessment, and thus has no impact on maintenance.

While the maintenance increase in 2019 is higher than past years, 205 West End Avenue continues to be one of the most conservatively managed buildings in the Lincoln Towers complex. This is measured by maintenance increase percentages over the years, maintenance per share, overall balance sheet strength, and capital improvement measures.

We appreciate your ongoing confidence and support in the Board and management’s handling of the building. The entire Board wishes you and your families a joyous holiday season and a happy and healthy 2019.

Sincerely,

Stuart Sugarman- President

Robert Stein - Treasurer

Board of Directors

● Eleanor Applewhaite

● Abigail Burns

● Larry Chaifetz

● Marc Donner

● Ernie Sander

● Robert Stein

● Stuart Sugarman

Summary of the 32nd Annual Meeting of 205 West End Avenue Owner’s Corporation

posted May 23, 2018, 7:15 AM by Marc Donner   [ updated Jul 5, 2018, 2:21 PM ]

For those who attended the meeting, thank you. For those who could not attend, here is a brief recap.

Keith Bleiweiss, our Certified Public Accountant led us through a comprehensive review of our financials, for both the Coop and the Condo. All this information can be found in the 2017 Financial Reports mailed to you in the package containing the formal Meeting Announcement. Net, net, we are very healthy financially.

Next, Stu Sugarman gave the report for the Board, as follows:

President's Comments - 2018 Annual Shareholders' Meeting

Good evening. As the president of your Board of Directors it has been my pleasure to serve you this past year.  My colleagues on the board, Ellie Applewhaite, Abigail Burns, Larry Chaifetz, Marc Donner, Ernie Sander and Rob Stein, have committed their personal time and energy in service to you, our Shareholders. In recognition of their contributions, I’d like to personally thank them for their hard work and dedication.

As usual, this past year has been a very active one. I’ll highlight some of these activities.

  • We are nearing the completion of the work on the balconies. As a reminder, this project required replacing the railings, the partitions and the concrete on the fascia, along with installing new steel rebar in the new curb for additional structural stability and patching minor cracks and applying a multi-layer water proof coating to all balcony surfaces, including flooring, roof and fascia.  Due to many factors, including extremely bad weather conditions and DOB approval delays, this project has taken longer to complete than planned.
  • It has also required that additional unanticipated & time-consuming work elements be performed. Two such elements are: significant core drilling and patching of weak spots in both the balcony floor and roof, and the repair of over 20 broken drain pipes. However, the end is in sight and we anticipate having most balcony lines open by the end of June.

  •  This project will provide us with many years of maintenance free balconies, enable us to comply with regulatory mandates and be much more attractive than our prior 50-year old balconies. 

  •  Budgeted at $3.8 million, this project was funded equally out of reserves accumulated from our last mortgage refinancing, and from borrowing on our current mortgage at an extremely favorable rate over 26 years to create as little impact as possible to shareholders.  ($2 million @4.45% for 26 years)

  •  The impact of this borrowing was an addition of 1.3% to our maintenance budget this year.

    It should be noted than none of these delays are increasing the overall project cost as this was a fixed-price contract. Additionally, there are performance penalties that will help reduce the cost of the project.

  •  In conjunction with the balcony work, Local Law 11 repairs to our building’s façade will also be made where needed. Once the balcony work is complete, we will tackle the issue of leaks to our façade.

  • As reported last year, our new co-generation system is now online and working perfectly to provide both steam and electricity at a lower cost than that provided by Con Edison.  As a new benefit, not allowed by the old system, the new CoGen units are configured to provide emergency power to the common areas of the building in case of a blackout, including one elevator on each side of the building, hallway lighting, and the pumps that keep the roof tanks full of water.  We are testing this capability 2 times per year to ensure that it is working properly, and that the building staff are adequately trained. It is comforting to know we have this capability in case of a blackout.
  • We completed the replacement of all lighting fixtures in all common areas with LED bulbs. The payback for this $81,000 project is 2.8 years in electrical savings. This does not include extensive labor savings in manpower to change bulbs and the cost of the older replacement bulbs themselves.
  • The Board created a standing Community Room Committee with ongoing responsibilities to monitor the Community Room and provide recommendations to building management and the board. This committee, headed by Board member Abigail Burns, will ensure that the Community Room is best serving the entire 205 population. Very shortly, you will all have had a chance to respond to their survey. The Committee’s group email address can be found on the 205 Website Contact page.
  • As always, the Board focuses on expense management. Led by our Treasurer Rob Stein, we delivered a 2018 budget calling for an increase of 3.72%, which included the one-time increase of 1.3% for the balcony/façade work I mentioned earlier.
  • We completed an inventory of all usable space in the basement to determine if we could either add or expand our shareholder amenities. Unfortunately, we determined that all the current space is being used maximally. However, we are still examining options to store more bicycles in the current space.
  • The Gym Committee, responding to member requests, added a state-of-the-art Peloton spin bike this year. The Committee’s group email address can be found on the 205 Website Contact page.
  •  We had our building’s insurance carrier, HUB, perform a free risk assessment. While we passed with flying colors, there were some minor items that both Mark and Jose will need to follow up on.
  • We acquired 2 new Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), one for the gym and one for the front desk. Training on the use of the AED units will shortly commence.
  • The landscaping committee, led by Board members Rob Stein and Larry Chaifetz, are doing what they can during the period the sidewalk bridge is up, and have planned a complete landscaping upgrade once the sidewalk bridge is removed.
  • We are working with LTCA to upgrade the common lighting in our shared park grounds. Ernie Sander represents us on the LTCA Board.
  • As a normal Board function, we review for approval all purchase and refinance applications. These applications are quite large and very detailed. In 2017, the Board reviewed 22 purchase applications, 9 refinance applications and 2 shareholder transfer applications. This is a typical volume of transactions, and entails a lot of work for the Board, but is a very critical function to ensure the financial stability of the Coop. Additionally, all new prospective shareholders are interviewed by the Interview Committee, headed up by Ellie Applewhaite.
  • And last, but not least, the Reality Advisory Board and Local 32 BJ have settled on a new 4-year contract. In anticipation of this, our 2018 maintenance had already included the anticipated labor increase. Therefore, there will be NO impact to our 2018 maintenance.

Mark and Jose continue to spend considerable effort to ensure we keep the building running at peak efficiency. This includes the ongoing maintenance of our water, steam, and control systems, upgrades of our window components and the vigilant repair of water leaks from our facade.

Several specific examples of their diligence to go “above & beyond” are:

  • Aiding shareholders during the period of extreme cold weather this past January. Building staff, under the direction of both Mark and Jose, responded to shareholder requests by sealing and appropriately closing windows, sealing the space around the air conditioners and providing covers for the air conditioners to minimize leaks of cold air.
  • Investigating the use of isolation valves to better control heat distribution and save energy costs.
  • Helping shareholders remove and store their balcony belongings until the project is finished. And cleaning windows, repairing screens and cleaning Air Conditioners for shareholders as the balcony project winds down.
  • Installing a direct dialer from Building Link to the Front Desk phone. Since Building Link is the official source of shareholder contact phone numbers, this will ensure that the correct number to contact a shareholder will always be used, and not a phone number given by a delivery person or a guest. This has improved building security and operational effectiveness at the front desk.

Looking forward:

Going forward we plan to be as tough on spending as we can be, consistent with prudent operation of the building and provision of services to shareholders.  205 is known as one of the most economical of the co-ops in Lincoln Towers, with an average growth in maintenance costs over the past decade that is the lowest of the eight buildings. (Average increase is 3.06%/year for past 10 years)

For 2018, we delivered a budget with a 3.72% maintenance. Of this increase, 1.3% is for interest and mortgage amortization expense attributed to the additional borrowing for the balcony project.  The impact of this expense to the operating budget is most noticeable in 2018 as the costs will already be accounted for in future years. 

Aside from the 1.3%, the remaining increase of 2.42% was almost entirely due to increases in real estate taxes. The Cooperative employs a real estate tax attorney to maintain pressure on the City to keep our tax assessment as low as possible.  As I indicated before, this board is very proactive when it comes to ensuring we keep our expenses as low as possible, while still providing a high level of shareholder services and building operations.

We are currently working with Mark & Jose on updating our multi-year capital plan. Aside from the current balcony and façade work and based on the numerous capital projects we have already completed over the past few years, we don’t expect new major capital projects in our near future, except refurbishing the hallways at some point.

It should be emphasized that all our recent capital improvements have been funded from the proceeds of the building’s refinanced low-interest mortgage.  For these capital improvements, such as the lobby, the roof, the gym, the elevators, the driveway, etc., there has been no impact on shareholder maintenance.  For the balcony/façade work, the impact was minimal.

As I said earlier, prudent financial management has kept our maintenance increases quite low over the last several years. 

Thank you

At this point the floor was opened for questions.  

Numerous questions and comments were raised, and a lively discussion ensued.

Nomination of Director Candidates

We then proceeded to vote on the item referred to in the notice of annual meeting and proxy statement.  Seven incumbent directors are standing for re-election.

President: The candidates are, in alphabetical order:

  • Eleanor Applewhaite
  • Abigail Burns
  • Larry Chaifetz
  • Marc Donner
  • Robert Stein
  • Ernie Sander
  • Stuart Sugarman

In accordance with the offering plan, the sponsor is exercising its right to designate one member in addition to our seven.

These 7 candidates were nominated, and nominations were then closed.

With nominations closed, and having no opposing candidates, the 7 candidates were elected by acclamation.

With elections complete and having no other formal business on the agenda, a motion to adjourn this meeting was passed and we then proceeded to the general Q&A.

Again, a lively discussion was held, several follow items were noted, and the meeting was adjourned at about 8:50PM.

2018 Maintenance Letter

posted Dec 20, 2017, 8:06 AM by Marc Donner

Dear Fellow Shareholders:


The Board, supported by its accountant and management staff, has recently completed its financial projections for year-end 2017 and has adopted an operating budget for 2018.  205 West End will finish this year with a small operating deficit.  The Board and management continue to focus on conservative financial operation and diligence to manage the building’s finances as prudently and effectively as possible.


We appreciate all residents’ patience as the balcony project is in process.  As noted previously, this project is estimated to cost $3.8 million.  To date, the actual costs are in-line with the estimated budget.  It was announced at the Annual and Informational Shareholder meetings earlier this year that the project is being funded from a combination of reserves and additional borrowing ($2 million) on our current mortgage.  This method of funding was chosen as it creates the least financial impact on shareholders monthly.


For 2018, shareholders can expect a 3.72% maintenance increase (for a total of $3.9932 per share per month).  Of this increase, 1.3% is for interest and mortgage amortization expense which is attributed to the additional borrowing for the balcony project.  The impact of this expense to the operating budget is most noticeable in 2018 as the costs will already be accounted for in future years.  Detailed financial breakdown follows.


Year-end analysis of projected 2017 expenses; explanation of 2018 increases


As always, many of the Cooperative’s expenses are not under the board and management’s direct control.  Labor costs are set by union contracts, insurance rates are dictated by carriers, energy prices by the market, and taxes, water, and sewer charges by the city.  That said, we make every effort to control other costs as best as possible.  Final numbers for 2017 are still to be confirmed. They will be audited by our accountant and reviewed with you at our annual shareholders’ meeting in the Spring.  Here is how 2017 looks thus far, along with our budget projections for 2018:


Mortgage Interest and Amortization – budgeted for 2017 at $1,406,400 is projected to end the year at $1,480,000.  This increase of $73,600 is for the costs associated with the $2 million loan for the balcony project incurred in 2017, which the Board absorbed into the operating budget and did not pass on to shareholders.  In 2018, the budget for this expense is expected to be $1,535,900 or $129,500 more than the expense budgeted for 2017 which reflects a full year of expense associated with the $2 million loan or 1.3% of the 2017 forecasted budget.


Real Estate Taxes - budgeted for 2017 at $5,460,000 is projected to end the year at $5,406,000, 1.0% under budget.  In 2018 we expect to pay real estate taxes of about $5,712,700, an increase of 4.6% over last year’s budget, and a major driver of this year’s maintenance increase.


Energy (steam, electricity and co-gen gas) was budgeted at a combined cost of $1,197,100 for 2017.  While final bills are still to be presented, the projected energy expenditures in these categories are forecast in 2017 to be approximately $1,364,900 or 14% above budget which also has a large impact on our 2017 finances.  The largest drivers of this increase are as follows:

  1. Steam – average cost per unit increased from $27.16 to $29.91 from 2016 to forecast 2017 while consumption stayed relatively flat (total cost in 2016 of $670,795 compared to 2017 forecast of $743,000).  For 2018, the Board through consultation with the accountant and management has budgeted the average cost per unit to be $28.23 which is more aligned with current pricing expectations (2018 budget of $700,000).

  2. Electricity – budgeted for 2017 at $400,000 is projected to end the year at $506,000, an increase of 26.5%.  For 2018, the Board through consultation with the accountant and management has locked in our delivery and supply costs at $476,300 based on our projected consumption which is a savings from forecast 2017 of $29,700 or 5.9%.

  3. Co-gen Gas– budgeted for 2017 at $164,300 is projected to end the year at $115,900, a decrease of 29.5%.  For 2018, the Board through consultation with the accountant and management has locked in our delivery and supply costs at $107,800 based on our projected consumption, which is a savings from forecast 2017 of $8,100 or 7.00%.


The Board continues to review our energy costs very closely to manage them as cautiously as possible.  Aggregate energy spending for 2018 is budgeted at $1,284,100.  The projected increase of 7.3% over 2017’s budget is speculative but based on consultation with the accountant and AKAM’s Energy Department the Board is trying to estimate this as accurately as possible.

Note:  Each year we remind shareholders that while we have sub-metered the Cooperative, the budget for the Condominium must reflect the entire electrical payments to our suppliers so that our bills get budgeted, paid, and booked properly.  Due to sub-metering, only about 35% of the building’s electrical consumption (that which services the common areas like the lobby, hallways, elevators, stairways, and garage) is applied to our maintenance calculations.  The remaining 65% of our electrical usage is paid directly by tenants and shareholders according to measured consumption, and does not affect maintenance charges.


LTCA Dues – budgeted for 2017 at $683,100, the 2018 budget is $697,400 for an increase of 2.09%.


Staff Payroll (wages, benefits, payroll taxes, workers compensation, and disability insurance) – will be going from a forecast of $1,487,500 in 2017 to a projected budget of $1,539,000 for an increase of 3.5%.


Maintenance and Repairs remain within reasonable expectations.  Our anticipated expenditures in 2017 were budgeted at $392,600 and are projected to be $383,000, which is about 2.4% below our budget.  Based on recommendations from our Resident Manager and AKAM, we are budgeting $378,500 for 2018.


Water and Sewer - budgeted for 2017 at $315,500 is projected to end the year at $352,700 for an increase of 11.8% which is partially attributed to the balcony construction project and increase in the cost by the city.  Our forecast for 2018 is $325,000 which is more aligned with our historical consumption at current rates.


Along with all other New York City Cooperatives, given the increases in real estate tax, labor, and utilities, we are facing a maintenance increase for the year beginning January 1, 2018.  As in previous years, we will be recouping some of the increased operating costs by holding back the NYC real estate tax rebate due most shareholders in the first quarter of 2018.  You will see a credit/debit journal entry on your June statement.  From an accounting standpoint this is treated as an operating assessment, and thus has no impact on maintenance.

The Board has consistently tried to be both prudent in our expenditures and to make full use of opportunities to contribute to our building’s overall financial health.  This includes reducing costs whenever and wherever possible.  205 West End Avenue remains one of the most conservatively managed buildings in the Lincoln Towers complex, measured by maintenance increases, maintenance per share, general balance sheet, and capital improvement measures.

The Board would formally like to thank Jeffrey Allister for his many years of service and dedication to our community upon his resignation from the Board.  He has been a valued partner and advocate during his tenure.  


We appreciate your ongoing confidence and support for the Board.  The entire Board wishes you and your families a very good holiday season and a happy and healthy 2018.

Stuart Sugarman, President
Robert Stein, Treasurer

Smoking Policy Update

posted Dec 8, 2017, 6:33 AM by 205 West End Avenue Owners Corporation

To comply with the recently amended Local Law 147 of the City of New York (Section 17-502 of the administrative code), the Board has implemented the follow smoking policy, effective immediately.  This clarifies existing smoking policy in accordance with City regulations, and does not represent a substantial change in building policy.
  1. Smoking is prohibited in all of the common areas of the building, including, but not limited to, the elevators, hallways, stairways, lobby, courtyards and rooftops.
  2. Smoking is also prohibited outside on the building’s property within 20 feet of the building’s entrance.
  3. No person shall smoke in the areas where smoking is prohibited by this rule, nor permit smoking by any occupant, agent, tenant, invitee, guest, friend, or family member in such areas.
  4. Smoking is permitted inside residents’ individual units, but such residents shall not allow, and shall take reasonable steps to prevent, secondhand smoke from passing into neighboring units or common areas of the building. Smoking in violation of this rule may constitute a nuisance pursuant to the terms and provisions of the 205 West End House Rules.
  5. The Board reserves the right to impose appropriate measures on a case-by- case basis, including requiring that an apartment be sealed or that smoking inside an apartment be restricted, in response to complaints of secondhand smoke passing from such apartment into neighboring units or common areas of the building.
  6. The term ‘smoking’ includes carrying, burning, or otherwise handling or controlling any lit, smoldering, or electronic product containing tobacco or cloves, including but not limited to cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vaping devices, cigars, or pipes.
The House Rules have been updated to incorporate this policy. The most up-to-date version of the House Rules can be found on the 205 West End website (http://www.205westend.com/).

The Board thanks you for your compliance to this policy.

Status of Local Law 11 / Balcony Refurbishment Project

posted Nov 27, 2017, 7:01 AM by 205 West End Avenue Owners Corporation   [ updated Nov 27, 2017, 7:02 AM ]

November 27, 2017

At a recent project meeting, the management and board reviewed the remaining work elements.  Based on where we are now and on weather forecasts, we no longer expect the project to be completed in 2017.  We are extremely disappointed in this outcome.  Here are the details:

SCHEDULED WORK FOR THE REST OF 2017: NORTH & SOUTH ELEVATIONS

·       Complete concrete fascia replacement on all balconies,

·       Complete stripping the forms from all balconies,

·       Complete scarifying the surfaces on all balconies.

SCHEDULED WORK FOR JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018

·       Install expansion joints at the centers of the J/V and H/U balconies.

SCHEDULED WORK TO BEGIN MARCH/APRIL 2018

The last three (3) items that will remain for the spring of 2018, once weather permits, will be:

1.     The fascia and underside coatings,

2.     The topside traffic deck coating,

3.     The railing and partition installation.

The first item to be conducted will be the balcony fascia and underside coating.  Since this is temperature sensitive, the work cannot be started until temperatures are consistently above 40 degrees (including overnight temperatures).  Each balcony fascia and underside will receive two (2) coats of paint. 

The second item to be conducted will be the topside traffic deck coating.  This is the covering for the walking surface of each balcony.  Because the process is temperature sensitive the work cannot be started until the contractor is confident that temperatures will be above 40 degrees for a minimum of five (5) straight days.  Each deck will receive four (4) layers of coating. 

The final item on all the balconies will be the installation of the new railings and partitions.  These will be installed, set in grout, and waterproofed.

The estimated time for completion of each item in the Spring of 2018 is as follows:

1)    Installation of fascia and underside coatings -15 working days,

2)    Installation of Traffic Deck System - 40 working days,

3)    Installation of Railings and Partitions - 20 working days.

 

With a full complement of workers on site, the contractor will need 75 working days to complete the project once temperatures are consistently above 40 degrees.  With this schedule in mind, the project will be completed by the end of June.  

Once the balcony railings have been installed and the balconies have been approved by the building engineer they will be opened to shareholders.  Based on NYC DOB protocols, the sidewalk bridge will need to remain in place until the Amended 8th Cycle Local Law Report is accepted by the DOB. 

In the event there are favorable temperatures (above 40 degrees) in the months of December, January, or February, the contractor will conduct some of the coating work to help accelerate the schedule as best they can.  They are leaving the scaffolds in place for this reason, but they will be fully secured and safe when not in use.     

IN CONCLUSION

The Board had intended that this project be finished this season.  It is unfortunate that between delays with the DOB, rain, unexpectedly cold temperatures, in addition to misestimation by our contractor, we have run out of time.

We apologize for any inconvenience this delay has, and will, cause.  If there is anything our AKAM Management office can do to help alleviate this inconvenience, please reach out to Mark Weil.

House Rules – Balcony Update; New Board Member

posted Nov 8, 2017, 5:57 PM by Marc Donner   [ updated Nov 10, 2017, 5:24 AM ]

Successor to Jeffrey Allister on the Board: Ernie Sander
At its recent meeting the Board interviewed candidates who had responded to the notice of Jeffrey Allister’s announced intention to retire from the board as of the end of 2017.
After interviewing the candidates and an extensive discussion, the board has asked Ernie Sander to succeed Jeffrey Allister when he vacates his seat at the end of December.
Ernie Sander has lived in 205 for the past four years along with his wife and children, aged 9 and 11. He grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts (the board did NOT inquire as to his views on the Yankees and the Red Sox) and studied journalism at Colby College and Northwestern University Graduate School of Journalism.
Ernie has had a career in media over several decades, occupying managerial and leadership roles in companies big and small, including the Wall Street Journal. He has extensive experience in communications, a specialty of which the board expects to take advantage in the coming years.
The Board thanks Jeffrey Allister for his years of service
The Board extends its warmest thanks to Jeffrey Allister for his many years of service to the 205 community. In his time on the board, including the many years that he served as the Treasurer, Jeffrey worked tirelessly to keep expenses and hence maintenance increases down. It is thanks to his efforts that 205’s maintenance increases over the last decade have been the lowest in Lincoln Towers.
House Rules – Balcony Update
As promised, the board has reviewed the House Rules governing balconies in line with the balcony restoration project currently under way. A revised set of House Rules have been posted to the 205 West End website (205westend.com) on the page named Rules.

The Board strongly urges you to read these House Rules relative to the balconies (Section #9) before returning any of your possessions onto your balcony.

Balcony/Facade Project Update

posted May 19, 2017, 6:14 PM by Marc Donner

Removal of Railings and Use of AC’s:

According to the workplan, removal of the South Side railings will begin Monday, May 22nd, 2017 (weather permitting). This means there will be a great deal of noise, and dust generated. As discussed at the Informational meeting, air conditioners will be covered with an external filter to prevent this dust from getting into your AC’s.

You  will be able to use your AC’s during this period, but they may operate slightly less effectively. We recommend that if at all possible you do  not run the AC closest to the work area while work is ongoing.  When work has been performed on that balcony, the contractor will vacuum these filters at the end of each day to improve their efficiency,  Only AC’s over the balconies will be impacted.

No Access to Playground:

The DOB reviewed the safety plans for this project and designated the playground and part of the grassy area “no access. This means that no one will be allowed in this area at any time until the South Side balconies are completed. However, access to the rest of the park space (grassy areas, basketball area, etc.) will be available for use.  Work on the South Side of the building is expected to be completed near the end of August.

We are aware that this closure affects many Lincoln Towers residents, but unfortunately this was out of our hands. We originally thought the playground would be designated as “limited access”, allowing for access after work hours. On Wednesday May 17th, it was officially brought to our attention that the DOB has designated it as “no access”. We are truly sorry for this inconvenience.  Had we known in advance, we would have communicated this much earlier.

Limited Access to West End Parking Lot:

The parking lot on the West End has been designated as “limited access”. This means that when work is going on, there is absolutely no access in or out of the parking lot. When no work is being performed during evenings and weekends, the parking lot can be opened.  However, there will be times that Xinos Construction will be working after 5pm and on Saturdays to complete the job on schedule.

North Side Balconies:

Based on our current schedule, North Side mobilization will begin June 26th . If we are on schedule, all items need to be removed from the North Side balconies at that point. Thus there will be an overlap of work being performed on both sides of the building to make up for the delayed start caused by the Department of Buildings in getting our permits.

Status Updates:

We will post regular status updates for this project.  Thank you for your patience during this work.

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