Several costly repairs and improvements had to be undertaken in the first half of 2017. The problems requiring immediate attention involved the boiler in the cellar, gas lines leading to boiler, and a series of issues uncovered as a result preparing for an inspection and test of the fire sprinkler system required every five years by New York City. In all, when completed, these repairs and improvements will have cost in excess of $40,000 or more than 40% of annual income from rent in a normal year with 100% occupancy rate. 2017's income will be less than the full potential income since in the first half of the year DGT experienced an 80% turnover among the five rental units in the building, leaving each of four rooms temporarily unoccupied as they were being refurbished for the next tenant.
The repairs to the boiler and replacement of gas lines leading to the boiler cost approximately $6,300. However the costs for the fire system related upgrades may run up to $34,000 given current cost estimates and hopefully no additional work needing to be done. The five-year inspection and flow-test required by the New York City initially uncovered, during unofficial pre-testing, the need to replace one sprinkler head among a total of 45 in the building, the posting of a fire safety plan near the front door, the painting of risers (plumbing) and of the handle of the shutoff valve in the cellar. It was in the course of attempting to shut off the system to replace the one sprinkler head that it was determined that the shutoff valve in the cellar, installed with the system in 1964, was frozen in the open position and needed to be replaced. In order to replace it, the water needed to be shutoff at the curb and no shutoff valve at the curb was visible, and when uncovered by the contractor and boxed in with the a cover for easy access. However, the valve was also later determined to be in need of replacement and that would require, per code, replacement of the galvanized steel pipe running from the water main to the building. Galvanized steel pipes, like lead pipes, do not meet NYC code, and the valve could not be replaced without replacing the pipe. The work is on target for completion in the coming weeks, in advance of the now re-scheduled, official 'witnessed flow-test' of the sprinkler system.
There remain a number of priorities for the future of the building. Ultimately resources are needed for renovation. An estimate developed in 2014 indicated project costs of a minimum of $1.25 million, and that amount is certainly increasing each year. An informal attempt to assess the capacity of the organization to raise such funds from its own membership was attempted last year and no potential leading gifts for a possible capital campaign. Undertaking such a study is difficult for an organization with no real significant history in raising funds from its members. A more modest approach deserving of consideration would be to raise $250,000 to more than pay off the current principal on the mortgage, and undertake to pay as you go restoration and improvement project based on net income from rent. The structure is worth in the range of $3 million on the market. In the meantime, Bro. Paul Fletcher, the current House Manager (Building Superintendent) reported at the most recent quarterly membership meeting that there were several priorities for the very immediate future. These projects included: radiator maintenance before the winter, repair or replacement of third floor staircase and banister, replacement of hatches for the basement and roof, cornice replacement, dumpster rental for clearing out of accumulated junk in the basement, and front yard landscaping.