Renovation of Residential Floors is Underway


We thought this day would never arrive.

“What? That this blog would have an updated entry?”

No, I mean that apartment renovation has begun. Twelfth and Eleventh floor residents have moved to their temporary abodes, all the belongings are stored in individual pods, and work has begun to transform the top two floors into the finished products we have been talking about for the last four or five years.

The first task is asbestos abatement. No use avoiding the subject; notices have been posted and sooner or later everyone will hear the “A” word being tossed about. This building was built in 1979. Suspicions about asbestos were coming to light at that time, but regulations were not yet being imposed. The good news is that the asbestos used in this building is very localized and has never posed a danger to anyone here. In older buildings, this material was much more prevalent, but here at Selis Manor it was found to be contained in the mastic that glued the tiles to the floor. No exposure to us, and it was less than six percent of an epoxy product that could not become airborne in its natural state. Still, it is there; but, after abatement, there won’t be a speck to be found in the newly renovated spaces.

Once we get the all clear, demolition will begin. Old cabinets, stoves, refrigerators, air-conditioners, radiators, sinks, tubs, toilets, tiles, closet doors, and apartment doors will all be tossed. (Well, not literally tossed. You can still walk in front of the building without worrying about a toilet landing on your head. I wish I could say the same for my neighborhood.) Some walls will be opened up, and pipes will be replaced where needed. The floors will be leveled. (Sorry. Now if you drop something on the floor, it will no longer roll toward the windows.) Speaking of windows, new, better-insulated windows will replace the old ones and the new heating/air-conditioning units will be installed. The new bamboo floors will be laid. After that kitchens and bathrooms will be totally redone. There will be new intercoms, updated pull stations, new smoke and CO2 detectors. The new closet doors (no longer bi-fold, but a much easier outward swing) and the new apartment doors will be installed. Some fresh paint, and “voila” the apartment will be ready. Multiply that by two floors’ worth of apartments, and you can understand why it is a three month process. Lots to be done in a relatively short period of time.

Right now the construction is a lot of noise and inconvenience, but in a few months, when the twelfth and eleventh floors are reoccupied, there will be tangible evidence of what living at Selis Manor will be like in the not too distant future.

Pull Down the Shades!


Now that the scaffolding is up, do not be surprised if you notice people walking past your windows. These are workers doing their jobs and as much as we would love to notify you exactly when and where they will be working every day, that would be impossible. If they are repairing a crack on the eleventh floor and suddenly realize they need to continue that repair on the tenth floor and then the ninth floor, they are going to go where the work takes them and any prior scheduling notification would not anticipate that. So suffice it to say that workers may be working anywhere on the scaffolding Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 4:00pm. Hard as it may be to imagine, these workers are more interested in repairing the brickwork than in peering into windows. They are professionals and they know better. Still, if you value your privacy, I suggest you pull down your shades. I remember changing in my room once and suddenly there was a worker right outside my window. He took one look at me and reached in and pulled down the shade himself.

Speaking of the work presently taking place on the scaffolding, we are power-washing the bricks and scraping out the old mortar between the bricks so fresh mortar may be applied. The process we are using causes pebble-sized debris to fall straight down which sometimes bounces off the lower levels of the scaffolding and into the screens and window panes below and might even get into your window sill. If you hear pebbles bouncing off your windows, it is mortar from above. It might be annoying, but these bouncing pebbles pose no danger to you, the windows or the screens.

As always, we apologize for any inconvenience and we would like to thank all our residents, clients and guests for your understanding and cooperation in helping to make this project a success.

Construction and Fire Alarms


This is an important piece of information that everyone in the building should know. Although it eventually will be modernized, presently we have a very good Fire Alarm System which will light up the panel in the security office for all manner of trouble. It not only monitors the sensors throughout the building for excessive heat and fire, it monitors the water in the standpipes feeding the fire hoses on every floor and it monitors the water pressure in the sprinkler system. The system is always up and running and it will always alert the Central Station when there is trouble. Central Station will then alert FDNY to dispatch the Fire Trucks. During construction, when working with blow torches, or when adding sprinkler heads, or when lowering the water pressure, or when doing any work that might set off an alarm, we must take the system off-line. This does not mean that the alarms won’t ring. It just means that we alert the Central Station not to pass the signal through to FDNY unless they hear from us that there is real trouble. So if you hear fire alarms ringing on your floor, even if there are several in a row, please know that if there is a real emergency you will be notified by the front desk. Please do not take it upon yourselves to call 911 or summon the Fire Department. That would be tantamount to calling in a False Alarm and may cause delays in their responding to real emergencies. For safety and legal reasons we cannot disarm the system, so if you hear a fire bell between the hours of 8:00am and 4:00pm, it is likely due to alarms reacting normally, but to a controlled situation. After 4:00pm and before 8:00am however, and all day on weekends the system will be back on line and will perform regularly and you should behave as you normally would in those situations.

The Pace is Picking Up


As you can probably tell just by listening, work is continuing at Selis Manor. The hoist has been secured to the building. Every bolt of it was inspected by the Department of Buildings who deemed it safe. So we will be carrying materials to the roof and to the top floors in the coming weeks. Unfortunately we had to close the roof garden. Too many overly curious patrons were wandering into restricted areas. If there was a way to remedy this without closing the garden we would, but the safety of everyone is the primary concern and for now we must restrict access to that area.

Many people are concerned with the “Stop Work” order posted on the main entrance. This refers only to the scaffolding and I will attempt to explain the issue. All our plans and drawings are on file with the Department of Buildings. The original plans showed the scaffolding exactly as built and with four levels of planking. When it was determined by our team that six levels of planking would be more effective, amended drawings were filed. Inspectors showed up and walked the levels and were extremely satisfied with the quality of work. They found only one problem; when comparing it to the original plans they said we exceeded the number of planked levels by two. Correcting this was all a matter of red tape and paperwork. This just illustrates how precise we need to be and how closely we are being monitored. Everyone is working to insure that the work will follow all guidelines and continue to be at the highest level of accuracy. The amended plans were approved and the “stop work” order has been lifted.

Meanwhile we are digging deep through the basement floor in order to pour the concrete footings that will support the new stairway and two-stop elevators. We are digging about six feet down. The good news is we did not find any bodies; but we did hit the water table, a veritable river that runs under 23rd Street. We knew it was there and had already planned the proper methods to seal off the water and pour the concrete to the base. Nothing is as simple at it may seem, but fortunately we have a team of designers and engineers who not only have the original blueprints of this building to reference, but city plans as well.

We are also in the final stages of testing and approving the new windows. A few weeks ago contractors and ownership attended the factory test of the new window system which tested extremely well against wind and rain. Now we have installed those windows in an apartment right here at Selis Manor and they were tested in place this past week. If the results are as we expect, manufacturing will begin immediately. All of the windows, by the way, will be made locally, in beautiful downtown Flushing, New York, affording us a competitive rate while helping fuel the local economy.

As always, we apologize for any inconvenience and we would like to thank all our residents, clients and guests for your understanding and cooperation in helping to make this project a success.

Oh the Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!


There has been a lot of noise lately; jack hammering to be specific. Cutting through a one-foot thick slab of concrete gets pretty noisy. Plans call for cutouts in three places: two one-stop elevators and a staircase. One cutout is complete, but we have two more to go, so prepare yourselves; there’s more to come. In addition to the jack hammering there has been drilling, sledge-hammering, sawing, clanging, banging, chopping, scraping, sanding, grinding, and electric guitar playing. We know how any one of these things can get on your nerves, but everything at once can be downright mind-shattering. To help cope with this assault on our ears, management has purchased individual pairs of earplugs. These are available in apartment 204, free of charge (one pair per person please.) If the noise is getting to you, please stop by between the hours of nine a.m. and four p.m. Monday through Friday, and anyone in that office will be happy to supply you with a pair.

So what are the specifics on these new holes in the first floor, you ask? (Actually no one has asked, but I’m going to tell you anyway.) The one already cut is for a material lift. That is a new lift in a new location for the purpose of bringing the compacted trash up from the basement and directly to the street. No more trash in the courtyard! Another cutout is for an elevator to bring Visions’ clients directly from their new lobby to and from the basement. This will keep ridership down on the residential elevators. The third cutout is for a stairway to the basement where the old entrance to the auditorium used to be.

The next project coming up very soon is the power washing and repointing of the brickwork. This is like what the Dentist does to your teeth twice a year, but we’re using bigger Water-Piks. We will do this one floor at a time beginning with the twelfth and working our way down. We will publish the schedule shortly, but when your floor is being done we will need the windows closed and the air conditioners off. Workers will cover the air-conditioners from the outside to prevent debris from getting in the works. We ask your patience and cooperation as we make our building sparkling and bright and cavity-free.

Correction:

We have an addition to the Duct Cleaning Schedule:

August 29th Apartments 1210, 1114-214

Speaking of duct-cleaning, it is very important to make sure you allow access on the day specified so that your registers are sealed. So far we have cleaned the ducts of half the apartments and there was only one apartment that did not allow access in time. Lovely plumes of dust and soot spouted from the registers and were deposited on the kitchen and bathroom floors. Duct … Duct … Yucch.

As always, we apologize for any inconvenience and we would like to thank all our residents, clients and guests for your understanding and cooperation in helping to make this project a success.

MAJOR INCONVENIENCE ON THE HORIZON


In order to isolate future plumbing work in the building, both during the construction and the future operations of the building, the Owner is proceeding with the replacement of all domestic main riser valves (as well as adding more valves to improve service).

All of these shut-off valves are located in the first floor corridor, evenly distributed from east to west. Unfortunately, in order to perform this replacement, Procida will have to shut off water to the entire building and completely drain the system each time it installs a valve (it’s a full day’s work for each valve).

The building, therefore, will be without water on the days that work will commence between the hours of 8:00 am – 4:00 pm. PCC will perform said work according to the following schedule:

  • Friday – August 8th
  • Thursday – August 14th
  • Friday – August 22nd
  • Friday – August 29th
  • Friday – September 5th

Please take the necessary and appropriate steps to deal with this temporary condition. Procida will restore water at the end of each day. Please do not hesitate to contact John LiCastro with any questions or concerns. Thank you.

DUCT…DUCT…CLEAN…


We are going to address thirty years of build-up in the duct work of the building, and this work will begin on Monday, August 18th. Unfortunately, we will not be able to access the ducts through the roof openings, and this work will require Procida Construction to access each apartment according to the lines, not floors.

The schedule is as follows:

  • August 18th – Apartments 1201 – 201 and 1202 – 202
  • August 19th – Apartments 1203 – 203 and 1204 – 204
  • August 20th – Apartments 1205 – 205 and 1206 – 206
  • August 21st – Apartments 1205, 1107 – 207 and 1208 – 208
  • August 22nd – Apartments 1207, 1109 – 307, Catholic Guardians Space and 1208, 1110 – 210
  • August 25th – Apartments 1209, 1111 – 311, Catholic Guardians Space and 1210, 1112 – 312
  • August 26th – Apartments 1209, 1115 – 315, Catholic Guardians Space and 1212, 1116 – 216
  • August 27th – Apartments 1211, 1117 – 317, Catholic Guardians Space and 1214, 1118 – 218
  • August 28th – Apartments 1215, 1119 – 319, Catholic Guardians Space and 1216, 1120 – 220

Scope of work will be as follows:

  • Access to apartments will be needed starting at 8:00 am.
  • All registers in bathroom and kitchen to be sealed with plastic and tape.
  • Cleaning of ducts will commence upon completion of sealing all registers in the entire line of apartments starting from the 12th floor. All cleaning will be performed from the 12th floor apartments. Each riser will take approximately 30 minutes to clean. There are two risers located in each apartment. One in the kitchen and the other located in the bathroom.
  • Once cleaning of all duct lines has been completed, access will be needed in the apartments to remove previously installed plastic and tape, as well as, perform vacuuming of any residual dust in the registers. This process should only take approximately 5 – 10 minutes per apartment.
  • Ownership, then resident, to be notified once cleaning has been completed.

Please do not hesitate to contact John LiCastro with any questions. Thank you.

The Pain Will be Worth the Gain!


There is much to report this week on a variety of different levels. First of all, preparation for the temporary relocation of residents to begin the apartment renovation phase is underway. Everyone received a General Information Notice which officially explained the work, the reason for the temporary relocation, AND, most importantly, the fact that you will return to your apartment upon completion of the work. The relocation staff (Nelson and Bianca, along with Don) began meeting with residents of the 12th and 11th floors to discuss the available options and services.

On the construction front, you are probably very aware that there is now scaffolding on the front of the building all the way to the top, along with designated protected paths to insure safety. Procida should complete the back scaffolding within two weeks. In addition, Procida started installation of the material hoist in the front of the building which the general contractor will use to move material and remove debris in and out of the building.

August will be the month that we begin to take major steps that will affect services in the building and require access to apartments. The pain will be worth the gain! Two major items for August are the duct cleaning and installation of water shut-off valves. We will post separate information on each so that the related details stand-out easier. Thank you. We appreciate your cooperation and patience.

Scaffolding, Hot Water, and More


Well, we knew the scaffolding had to go up eventually, and this past week it finally did. This means everyone, and I mean everyone, will need to pay closer attention when navigating the sidewalk. It’s not just piping and poles to be aware of, there are also plywood walls, which may actually help guide you in and around the maze of passageways that are necessary for the type of construction about to begin on the eastern half of the building. The good news is, unlike some construction detours in the city, this one will not require you to venture out into the street or near traffic. The bad news is that the once wide-open, broad sidewalks are now sectioned into six-foot wide corridors. Expect some pedestrian traffic jams. Scaffolding is a necessary evil that you will only appreciate when it’s raining. At least the mailboxes out front are still in place and will not be moving (except for a brief period at the very end of the project when we repave the sidewalk. More details about that in 2016.)

What other irritating news do we have for you? Ah, yes the hot water situation. Now that we removed the old boilers we have to replace them. So the new boilers have been brought in piece by piece and are being welded together in place. This, as you may be well aware, requires a daily shut-off of the gas that powers the hot water heaters. So once again we ask that you bear with us, weekdays from 8:00am to 4:00pm, when there will be plenty of water, but none of it hot. This will continue through the 25th of July.

Before new walls can go up or new staircases and elevators can be installed, there is a great deal of preparation that must go into a renovation of this magnitude. New conduits for electric wires are being run, structural steel beams are being added in the basement where needed, new concrete has been poured to support the new (bigger and more efficient) hot water heaters, and new plumbing is being run to those heaters and the boilers. All this “behind-the-scenes” work is being completed under the strictest guidelines and regulations. There are regularly scheduled on-the-job inspections; which, by the way, we are passing with flying colors.

Within the coming weeks you may notice more activity on the first floor. This will be the first of the new walls, floors and ceilings going in; new air conditioning, too. That part will take a few months to complete, but we are progressing nicely.

As always, we apologize for any inconvenience and we would like to thank all our residents, clients and guests for your understanding and cooperation in helping to make this project a success.

Progress on Many Fronts


Things are happening in so many places around Selis Manor, we can hardly keep up with them all.

Let’s start with the basement. If you read last week’s installment you may recall that the old boilers were being dismantled. Well, now they’re gone. Every last piece of cast iron has been sent off for recycling, to begin their new lives as fence posts, farm equipment, manhole covers, barbecues, golf clubs or railroad tracks. I just hope they get recycled into something outdoorsy because they deserve it after having been cooped up in a cellar for the last 35 years. And if they must be turned into some indoor type of item, I hope it’s waffle irons. Mmmmm, waffles.

So the old boilers are out, and for now the building is still getting hot water from the old hot water heater; but the newer, bigger, more energy efficient hot water heaters are in place and waiting to be hooked up. Also in the basement, the old air conditioners and duct work are gone and many walls have been demolished; new structural steel has been installed to shore up a new material lift we will be installing for more efficient trash removal; new electrical lines are being run throughout the classroom spaces; and we are counting down to the time that the entire basement will be back in business.

Now to the courtyard. What is that structure back there? Well, in the spirit of full disclosure, that structure (and please don’t worry, because it is ALL UNDER CONTROL) is a decontamination station for the asbestos abatement happening on the first floor. We are getting rid of all the nasty stuff that was buried under the old floor covering, so that the new building will be clean, healthy, sparkling and asbestos-free. How are they getting rid of the asbestos? Good question. Actually, we haven’t been able to watch the abatement process, as the area is sealed so tightly that no one is allowed in without the proper protection and authorization. But the workers we are using are pros, so we’re confident everything is being handled properly and by-the-book.

We appreciate all your tolerance. There have been jackhammers in the basement and sledgehammers banging against the back wall, and grinders working the first floor, all emitting decibel levels far exceeding the norm. As always, we apologize for any inconvenience and we would like to thank all our residents, clients and guests for your understanding and cooperation in helping to make this project a success.