State of the Association

Posted on Thu, 10/01/2020 - 12:30pm

By Marcel Molins, President

Marcel Molins

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, fellow owners and friends.

I have been informed that we have a quorum, so I am asking that the annual meeting be called to order.

As required by law, I am asking whether anybody wishes to nominate an owner who is not already on the ballot, as a candidate for the Board election. None has been nominated, so we will continue with the meeting.

The names of the Board members whose term expires today are Art Arfa, Sandy Chaet, Tom Irvine, Robert Larson, Joan Scholl and I. All of them should be thanked for having served the last two years on the Board.

I would like to name now those owners who are candidates for election to the Board: Art Arfa, Kenneth Bares, Vicki Blair, Sandy Chaet, Jennifer Eicher, Joan Scholl and I.

If you exclude me, it is noticeable that all candidates have fantastic qualifications, and even though not all might be elected, the building will be well served by those elected.

Before we proceed with the meeting, I would like to recognize a former owner who passed away within the last couple of weeks, and who served in the past on the Board: Richard Strauss.

He loved the building and gave untold hours for the good of Malibu East Condominium. Richard served on the Board for many years as treasurer and more recently as first vice president in charge of projects.

Richard was a very good man. He had a strong character but was very magnanimous and understanding. He had a very acute sense of fairness and integrity; he considered that honesty was paramount. As he used to say, we must be like the wife of Caesar: real honest but also have the appearance of honesty. He wanted the Association to have a strong reserve to cover emergencies. He used to say that since the Board is responsible for the walls and roofs of the homes at Malibu East, we need to have, at all times, the funds to cover unexpected expenses. He will be missed.

Let us spend some time in silence to show him our respect. May he rest in peace.

In past years I would start the annual meeting by saying that the year passed very fast. It is not so this year. It seems like an eternity. COVID-19 clearly has changed our lives and it has not yet gone away.

In spite of the virus, or maybe because of the virus, the work has been at times quite frenetic. The projects have continued without a pause and COVID-19 has added at times a sense of anxiety.

The vital issue has been and is, of course, the safety and well-being of all the residents, the staff and the visitors of the building. COVID-19 has provided some challenges and, due to its novelty, we had to hope we were choosing the correct course of actions, but maybe we didn’t.

My job tonight is to give you an overall view of the work done during this last year and to let you know where we stand. The treasurer and the chairs of the committees will provide you with a more detailed status of some of the projects.

A very large majority of owners have approved the program of purchase and sale or lease of units undertaken by the Board over the years. It has clearly resulted in maintaining the value of the units and also made some money for the Association.

In order to continue to enhance the value of the units, the Board decided that the time had come not only to do the major repairs required around the building but also to modernize the common elements. Professionals have been hired to assist management and the Board on the best course of action.

One of the recommendations of the architects interviewed by the Board and the firm that was hired for this purpose is to make the corner of Sheridan and Glenlake a focal point for all the motorists and passersby, and to enhance the atrium and the entrance of the building.

While doing the work required to maintain and modernize the building when appropriate and practical, we have tried to solve collateral issues at the same time.

For example, the old location of the dog run created safety issues, in addition to exposing dog owners to inclement weather. The new location has partially solved both issues.

Another example would be that when planning the replacement of the main door entrance, we have decided to install a new glass air lock in the lobby to decrease the stack effect in the building.

As you well know, over the last few years we had accumulated substantial reserves with the objective of being able to fund major repairs, such as the balconies and façades, but also to modernize the building. The work on the balconies and facades has been by far the most expensive one. I am sure you noted that we not only did the repairs, but also fixed and painted all the walls and balcony railings, as well as putting a complete new membrane on all the balconies. For all practical purposes this project will be finished by the end of this year. The cost of the work is well in excess of $7 million.

Another expensive project has been the reinforcing of the boat dock as it touches the lake, as well as building the fire escape stairs at the east end of the Malibu East Plaza as required by the Fire Department, and performing important concrete repairs and membrane work in the garage.

Indeed, late last year and earlier in the year, substantial work was conducted in the garage that required moving cars around the garage. It was a good challenge for the managers of the garage and building.

The engineer who reviewed the conditions of the boat dock discovered that the dock wall was no longer attached to the structure that makes up the foundation of Malibu East. Finding the correct and most appropriate method to reattach the dock wall did cause some delays and extra cost.

Since the emergency generator, which provides electricity to the service elevator and lighting in case of an electrical outage, had to be replaced, it was concluded that another location had to be found so as to free prime space at the top of the boat dock for other purposes appropriate to enhancing the desirability of the building. The boat dock is a very large space that is basically covered.

Management will organize visits to that area so that all of you can come up with ideas as to how to use that space.

We are basically a vertical town with 500 homes and a commercial center and quite a number of recreational facilities. It appears to me that the management of a normal town has fewer matters to deal with than the management of our vertical town. For example, the management of a normal town alone does not have to take care of the repairs to the walls and roofs of the homes.

In our case, the management needs to stay on top of the basic infrastructure of the town and its operations. Approximately 35 staff members assist management in those activities; management also operates as manager of the commercial center and manager of the clubhouse, i.e., the recreational facilities. If one views our building in that light, it is easy to understand that at any time there is a myriad of projects.

Management of 35 people engaged in different activities is not easy. The problem becomes more complex when a pandemic is rampant all around the town, which means that it can spread at any time into the vertical town. Since we are a community, management has to take care of the safety and well-being not only of the 35 employees, but also of the residents of the town as well as their visitors.

Since it was decided to continue as much as possible with a normal life, consideration had to be given to the entry and exit within the town of suppliers, vendors and contractors.

To deal with all of these issues, management had to come up with and prepare safety plans and protocols for the staff, residents, visitors, suppliers and contractors. Sanitation materials and supplies had to be acquired to keep the common areas of the building as safe as possible. Additional staff had to be hired when needed. Keeping the pools and other recreational facilities safe required special attention.

When protests were going on around this area, special plans had to be prepared in case our building and the commercial plaza were to become a target.

The introduction of Comcast was another area that needed attention. Billing issues have arisen, keeping management busy, while we hopefully are enjoying the new lineup of stations.

Changes in lifestyle require that our rules and regulations, as well as the building policies, be reviewed. When there are violations, management is at the forefront of the rule implementation.

Each and every project requires the interview and selection of the architects and engineers who will be in charge of the projects, as well as the contractors to carry out the work. Since we operate on the basis of competitive bidding, protocols need to be created so that all the parties are bidding based on equal conditions.

Keeping on top of our finances is another large part of management’s work. It needs to ensure that everybody pays what is due; bills are paid on time; the billing of assessments, rentals or fees is correctly done; and delinquent accounts are dealt with.

Given the fact that a new membrane was installed in many parts of the garage, equipment had to be bought to be able to keep the garage clean. Have you noticed that it is a lot cleaner than it used to be?

When working on the west wall, our contractor discovered that the cinder block panels, particularly in the top part of the wall, were in very poor condition and had to be replaced. As a result, a new project had to be undertaken.

A new problem resulting from the passage of time has been discovered in the sliding doors of the balconies. After the engineer studied and tested several windows, water was found to be entering through the doors and percolating onto the floors below. Even though the balcony doors are the responsibility of the owners, management feels a duty to advise owners of this issue.

We continuously look for ways to reduce the wind stack effect in the building so as to minimize electricity, protect the elevators and keep the common areas, particularly the lobby, from being so cold during the winter months. The change of the front door entrance into the lobby and some of the related work to be done in the lobby should minimize the problem.

A great number of owners do not have cars anymore. This has reduced the income from the garage. We have been able to obtain some income by leasing portions of the garage to neighboring buildings. We do know that we cannot count on this; therefore, attention has been given to how we could use the spare space in the garage and how to operate the garage more efficiently. The garage has been a money loser for years. With this in mind we are in the process of hiring an expert on operating garages to assist us to come up with the best solution.

The enhancing of the lighting in the Malibu East Plaza has been and will continue to be done in-house.

Since the Association owns a substantial amount of real estate, including nine units in the tower and commercial spaces in the Plaza, management has also dealt with improving and maintaining the units, whether for sale or rental, and the spaces for leasing, as well as dealing with the finding of tenants and leasing the units and the spaces.

Very soon a new carpet will be installed in the Plaza. I was quite surprised when waiting for the flu shots to see how clean was the area around the door of the convenience store. Management had done a good job of getting that area clean.

Very soon we will get the reserve fund study that we contracted for some time ago with a building reserve consultant. This firm specializes in looking at buildings like ours and developing both a short- and long-term plan of action based on the age of all the parts of the building and the repairs made in years past. Based on the draft we have seen, we believe that we are in good shape.

It is clear that if we want to be a first-class building and the best in the Rogers Park area, to achieve these goals we will have to continue to have in place not only an effective maintenance program but also plans to modernize and enhance our building. This requires money, so we will have to continue to provide the required funds to the Association. If we do so, we can have the best building in the city of Chicago.

All of these projects could not have been done without the fantastic work of our management team. I am convinced that Dean Lerner, vice president of Sudler and in charge of our building; Violette Deschamps; and Shelby Cutler are the best management team in the city, and so is our staff. We should be thankful also for the work done by Neil Warner and the Dialogue staff for providing all of us with information helpful to understand the work of the building.

Thank you.