Dear 336 CPW Friends and Neighbors,
By the time you read this I will have only two more meetings left as your president –November and December. I want this letter to be a bit of a summary of my personal agenda for this last year of my tenure and, in particular, a punch list of items I very much hope we can accomplish in the remaining 2-1/2 months of that tenure.
Let me start with a brief recitation of what is accomplished and in place. We are very fortunate. I’ll begin with people. We have a board of ten talented, dedicated, capable, hard-working and conscientious residents. They all take their responsibilities seriously and contribute their time and efforts generously and beyond the call of duty. After December it will be nine. The Board and the co-op are well prepared for a leadership succession.
We are blessed with a competent, reliable and diligent partner as our building agent in Orsid Realty Corp. Orsid is more than just a commercial relationship. It starts with John Devall, who truly is a member of the 336 family. The rest of the organization from top (Neil Davidowitz) through senior members (Dennis DePaola and Andre Kaplan) through staff (Ariola, Andrea, etc.) are all special folks. They are always there when we need them.
Then there is our own staff – Sergio, Orlando and the rest of the “guys.” Either nothing need be said about them or I lack the room and the time to say everything that should be said about them. They work tirelessly – always above the call of duty – in service of the building, our community and our families. Examples abound, but I’ll cite a recent one. A young girl was home alone, and her folks were late coming home. She was apprehensive. She went to the lobby and told the “guys” she was scared. They welcomed, reassured and comforted her in safety until Mom and Dad got home. It happens all the time.
The 336 physical plant is in great shape. We are restoring the sidewalks – a task that has not been completely smooth and easy. Nevertheless, it will get done and it will be done right. We approach the next Local Law 11 review with cautious confidence that the building envelope is in good shape. Our machinery and equipment is in good repair and the staff keeps it that way economically and with mechanical expertise. Everything works and is in good repair.
Our co-operative is financially sound and healthy. Our cash reserves are comfortably in the seven-figure range. Our budgets are consistently on target. We avoid significant maintenance increases year-to- year. Expenses have remained under control thanks to careful management by the Board and the staff – especially Sergio – and thanks to some recent capital projects such as the conversion from oil to gas. Our debt financing is secure and reliably in place with a high-quality lender, a low fixed interest rate and an amortization schedule that will leave the co-op debt-free at final maturity.
The market for apartments in 336 CPW has been strong for the past few years. Sales have generated a healthy flow of transfer fees. Most important, however, when our residents want or need to sell, they have been finding a market that allows satisfactory achievement of their price and timing objectives. Some of that is due to the position and reputation of our building in the market.
So, you might ask, what could I possibly be worried about? And the answer is nothing, really. However, if possible, I very much want to leave everything in flawless condition. And there are a couple of things left that I would very much like to see accomplished before I leave. Herewith a brief summary in no special order of priority or importance. They are all important.
You will have seen a note from the Board on the subject of naming the building. I won’t elaborate. I will simply say I think this is a good idea. I think it could add a lot of pizzazz to our building. I think over time it will add value in unquantifiable ways – and perhaps also quantifiable as well. We hope to move forward with this initiative – taking into account input and the level of consensus from the shareholders.
The Board has been discussing a program designed to rationalize and get control of the unknown future cost of window repair and replacement in the building. This is a potential liability we all share on some basis but the precise allocation among us and the precise timing of its maturation are both unknown. As such, they are likely to be arbitrary. This program will address these concerns in a logical, fair and proactive way that benefits everyone. You will be hearing more about it, but please be assured I very much hope to implement this plan before leaving – with your input and assent, of course.
Eleven years ago when a group of shareholders organized themselves and addressed certain inquiries to the then-incumbent Board, one such inquiry was “Please ask the Co-op’s Agent to certify the document which constitutes the by-laws of 336 Tenants Corp.” The inquiry was occasioned by the fact that there were two versions of the proprietary lease floating around. A few years after that snafu was resolved and a new Board was in place, it came to light there was a drafting error in the propriety lease of potentially enormous consequence to all shareholders. The Board asked shareholders for an amendment to correct the problem. In order to completely correct the problem, it was necessary that every shareholder approve the requested amendment. I would say that was unbelievable, except at the time I firmly believed our shareholders would respond positively to what was reasonably needed – even something as extraordinary as a 100% approval of a by-law amendment. They did. I should say you did.
Today, there is nothing especially wrong or defective with our proprietary lease such as I just described. It is just old, antiquated and often give inadequate or no guidance for routine questions and activities of the Board, the shareholders and the co-op in circumstances where it would be convenient to have it. We need an up-to- date, modernized, fully functional proprietary lease that work for those everyday situations.
Again, the Board has been discussing this for some time. I am hopeful that we can put this new, modern proprietary lease in front of you before I leave and obtain your approval to substitute it for what we presently have.
I have one final comment – at least for the moment. Over the years we have had numerous opportunities and challenges which offered the potential for division or discord among our residents and shareholders. Some were small and involved only a few shareholders – perhaps a noise or a leak or a renovation disturbance. Others were somewhat larger – e.g., lobby decorations or house rules governing dogs or fish tanks or staff performance issues. In an even larger, more general sense, given the diversity of our community that includes residents who have lived here since the 50s, the 60s, the 70s and the 80s as well as more recently arrived and younger families, financial and other considerations often create the potential for fault lines in the group. It has always been my belief that the most important quality and the most valuable feature of our community was its cohesion and its collective commitment to the group. It has also always been my personal governing principle that whatever the management issue, whatever the topic of shareholder interest, whatever the immediate challenge to our co-op, the guiding principle for resolving it must always be “keep our unity and prevent development of division or splits in the group.” Let me simply say, I hope that has borne fruit and I hope that it will continue.
Happy Halloween! I look forward to our conversations this fall.
With best regards,