State of the Association

Posted on Tue, 10/01/2019 - 12:30pm

By Marcel Molins, President

Marcel Molins Another year. They keep running away so fast. Management and the Board have continued to be quite busy during the past year. Maybe this is the reason why the years run so fast.

My job is to provide you with an overview of the projects and the work that the Board and management have done or have been engaged in during the year. The chairpersons of the committees will provide you with a more detailed review of these matters.

The building will be 50 years old in a couple of years. What we refer to as the building is actually three buildings: One is the tower where we live and the other two are the two garages, north and south of the tower. This setup explains one of the projects that was undertaken in the garage. This garage project, as well as a lot of the projects that are in progress, could be categorized as repair and maintenance. The work that is being done on the façade and the balconies falls into this category.

Other projects are the work being done in the garage, involving repairs of the columns and of the membrane, and the work that will be done in the boat dock. That is the area next to the lake and underneath the east end of the fourth floor.

In some instances, when projects involve only repairs, they surprise us when it is found they also involve new work. This is what happened with the work in the garage. When the construction company was about to do the garage work, it was discovered that the control joints between the tower and the building that houses the south garage were broken and not properly aligned. So, an amendment to the contract had to be executed to deal with this problem.

Similarly, when we contracted out the review of the condition of the boat dock (something very much advisable given the rising of the water levels in Lake Michigan), the engineers discovered that the so-called boat dock was not properly attached to the foundations of the buildings. Several studies and different sets of consultants had to be hired to assess the best way to correct this unusual condition.

Another case involving a big surprise occurred when, at the time of planning the re-installation of the bricks in the façade of the garage on Sheridan Road, it was discovered that the bricks used in the façade of the south garage when the building was constructed did not have the thickness required now by the municipal codes. So, the wall had to be completely redone. I think that you will agree with me that even if it is a completely new brick wall, it is not that different from the brick walls in our other buildings.

Replacements of valves in the building plumbing system, in the fire safety equipment and in the refrigerant lines are other examples of projects in this category. Also in this category of repairs and maintenance is the installation of more efficient lights and the replacement of our antiquated telephone systems.

Another category of projects involves the complete renovation of equipment or elements of our building. One example was the complete renovation of our elevators. Also in this category is the replacement of the emergency generator, which, in case of a major power outage, will provide power to the service elevator and some lighting in the halls and the exit staircases. Other examples are the replacement of the HVAC equipment in the Teen Room and Children’s Playroom, and the installation of double glass in all the windows of the Malibu East Plaza (the new name for the Captain’s Walk). These initiatives, together with others that will be mentioned tonight, are intended to decrease the use of electricity. As you well know, the cost of electricity has been going up, and many experts predict that it will continue to go higher.

There is another category of projects. These are those resulting from governmental action. You are well aware of the fire-safety project that was done some time ago. We did pass at that time all the city inspections. Well, early this year another inspector came to the building, and he demanded a number of corrections. They have now all been done.

Another inspection a couple of years ago found that there was no appropriate fire escape for those tenants located in the east end of the Plaza. So we had to engage the services of consultants to advise on the best way to tackle this problem. They concluded that the best, and possibly the only, solution was the construction of a staircase leading to the boat dock. Given the complexity of the project, we were granted several time waivers to complete the job. It has now been contracted out and the staircase will be built next year.

One problem that the building has faced since it was built is the wind stack effect. This problem becomes more acute in the cold and windy days of winter. Those are the days when it is so difficult to open and close doors, particularly in the garage and the door leading to the service elevator from the Lobby. Obviously the fact that cold air comes into the building increases our electricity costs. Remedial actions have been taken over the years by closing the gaps around pipes and electrical outlets in all parts of the building and installing better doors in many areas of the building. This has not been enough.

In the past we had been informed that not much more could be done. Nevertheless, the Board decided to hire a consultant. He has recommended a number of improvements to diminish this problem. For example, he has recommended the construction of a new door at the top of the handicap ramp in the Lobby. To do so according to code, we will have to move the location of the entrance to the Management Office. He has recommended also the installation of double-glass windows in the Lobby and the construction of a new two-door system in the area of the Lobby next to the door to the service elevator, as well as the construction of new doors at the top of the loading dock area.

At the same time, the consultant brought to our attention that there is new equipment that measures the carbon monoxide level in garages and directs the exhaust equipment to stop when the carbon monoxide level does not require it. At the present time, our exhaust equipment runs continuously. There are many hours during the day and at night when there is very little car activity and we do not need the equipment to run and blow cold air into the garage. We are about to implement this improvement. This will also reduce the electricity costs.

The Board decided that, given the age of the building, we had to take a proactive approach in attempting to modernize, refresh and meet the current expectations of owners of a luxury condominium. To that effect, after substantial debate and soul-searching, two architects were hired. One to review the outside common elements of the building and the other to review the common elements inside the building. Why two? Because we were advised that different expertise and experience were necessary to handle these matters.

The architect hired to review the outside of the buildings recommends that we make the corner of Sheridan and Glenake the focal point of the property so that passersby and motorists will take notice of Malibu East. He also recommends that we redo the atrium and install new pavers and new lighting, along with a new paint job and a different approach to the area in the middle of the atrium. He has also recommended moving the dog runs to the area outside the Bicycle Room so that our residents with dogs can stay under cover on rainy and snowy days. Also, they will not need to walk in front of the loading dock, which exposes the residents and their dogs to bodily harm from cars and trucks moving in and out of the loading dock.

These recommendations will be implemented over time.

The architect dealing with the inside common elements recommends that we keep the basic elements of our Lobby. Actually all the architects we interviewed before we made the decision to hire the current architect were of the opinion that our Lobby is unique and, except for a few changes in lighting and possibly the size and location of the doorman station, we should keep our Lobby as is.

As to the common elements on this fourth floor, it is clear that this Windjammer Room is dated and that the Fitness Room is too small. The chairman of the Architecture Committee will provide more details, but all the architects that we interviewed, including the one we hired, thought that eliminating the walls of this Windjammer Room and replacing them with glass windows would substantially improve the looks of the room.

We have been involved in quite a number of contracts. Obviously each project mentioned so far has required the execution of a contract. In addition, we have negotiated and dealt with contracts for leases of the spaces or units in the Malibu East Plaza, as well as contracts for the purchase or sale of residential units by the Association and the leasing of units owned by the Association. To the extent we think it is appropriate, all these contracts have been negotiated by management and members of the Board and drafted by the lawyers on the Board. For example, Arthur Arfa has been the lawyer in nearly all the closings of purchases of units by the Association and Tom Vaughan has been the Board representative in the closings of nearly all the purchases and sales of units by the Association.

During the last year, the TV and Internet Committee has been involved in the process of determining the best way to handle our television and internet needs. After many meetings to review alternatives, and a review by the Board, we now have signed a contract with Comcast. Tom Vaughan, chairperson of the committee, will provide a full report. Many residents volunteered to be members of the committee and have provided extremely good advice and support to the Board in making what we believe is the right decision at this time. This is a great example of cooperation between residents and the Board, and we hope that there will be more occasions to do so.

As you well know, the Board and management are very keen in making sure that this building is a first-class building. As part of this process, the Board decided to hire a consultant to provide what is referred to in the marketplace as a reserve study. The objective of such a study is to determine the life expectancy of the many elements and equipment in the building and to assist in planning the funding that will be necessary to deal with their replacement and/or repair. Our Long-Term Planning Committee will be addressing these issues in the forthcoming months once we have examined the reserve study.

Our treasurer, Joan Scholl, will provide all of us with a report on our finances. I would like, however, to make a few comments. You are, I hope, aware that by the end of next year, we will have spent some $7 million – I want to repeat, seven million dollars, and this is not peanuts – to pay for the work relating to the balconies and the façade. In addition, we will have spent close to $1.5 million to pay for the work being done in the garage and the boat dock, as well as the construction of the staircase to provide a fire exit in the east end of the Plaza. We would not have been able to do these projects and pay the large sums of money required to do the work if we had not accumulated in past years substantial funds in our reserve account. You all can figure out that, after we have paid for these projects, our reserves will have dwindled to a relatively small amount compared to what we had before these projects were undertaken.

Pursuant to the advice of the consultants, management and the Board have decided that this coming year we need to replace the carpet both in the halls of our building and in the Plaza. The cost of replacing the carpet in the Plaza is not very large, but the replacement of the carpet in the halls of our residential tower is quite expensive. This issue reminds me that the advice of consultants is not always good. The consultants who advised the Board some 10 years ago in connection with the replacement of the carpet in the halls were obviously not very good, as demonstrated by all the problems we have encountered in attempting to keep the carpet clean and in good condition, and suitable for a first-class building.

In order to reach the goal of having a first-class building, which the Board believes is what you want us to do, and not impose a special assessment, the monthly assessments and fees collected for different services, such as the garage, will have to be increased. After a number of years with no increases, the Board believes that all of you will agree that this is the right and appropriate decision at this time. I do believe that if we are judicious in the manner we spend our money and implement the required projects, we will continue to enjoy the benefits of living in the best condominium in the lakefront area and we will be proud to live in a first-class, luxurious building.

Thanks for your patience and goodwill.