RISE TO THE FUTURE
A development reflection by Joe Nardelli
November 11, 2011
Hello fellow residents of the WVH. I hope you will accept this late response to the
“Interim” First Open Informational Meeting held by the new Executive Board in
September. I found it to be lively, pointed and a stride into a hopeful future for WVH
residents in terms of representation of our shared interests and equities. Politics as
usual were set aside (almost). That was refreshing. And in case you didn’t hear I
would like to share a point I made that evening.
I spoke briefly on the topic of our future, specifically regarding all of the repairs that
are projected, happening now, or soon to be taken on by management. As I sat there
I calculated in my mind the costs of all of the projects mentioned
(https://westvillagewatchdog.wordpress.com/construction/). It occurred to me that
we could actually exhaust the reserve fund and any residual savings we’ve
accumulated since the conversion if we act on every repair needed at WVH.
The point I made had to do with the future of WVH in context of the Witkoff
construction complex going up in our neighborhood and the future development of
WVH. I have been thinking about the next 10‐12 years and how development
happening now in the West Village is going to impact the value of the area and our
property. I believe we should begin to think strategically NOW about how our six
plus block presence factors in the West Village today, and how we can prepare now
to benefit from the increase in value certain to come, and how we can improve the
quality of life for WVH shareholders and renters in the immediate future as well as
on a long‐term basis.
A few weeks ago, City Council and other officials approved the conversion of the St.
Vincent’s Hospital complex into living residences (with a low level emergency care
center). Both of these projects have come under considerable attack by community
boards and residents. They remain under attack as I write this. But, nothing seems
likely to change the direction or approvals given to develop these sites. The
approval of these two projects leaves me with a sense that this is only the tip of the
iceberg and I’ll guess that the elected officials are eyeing the West Village in no
uncertain terms as the next major redevelopment zone within this Metropolis.
Additionally, as we all anticipate, they are finishing the multi‐billion dollar WTC site.
Which, even if only symbolically, is intended to become the next business center of
the world. Make no mistake, the corporations and individuals it attracts are going to
be very influential in the development of the area immediately surrounding this site
over the years to come. And I’ll bet our footprint is ripe for development as well.
At our interim meeting several residences brought up the elevator project. One
individual suggested that it was getting difficult for her to negotiate the stairs to her
4th floor apartment. She expressed that she wasn’t sure how in the next five years
she was going to manage climbing. Jim Bozart said something like, the undertaking
of elevator installations in the buildings is too expensive to seriously consider. Okay.
Who wouldn’t agree with that?
However, his response didn’t address the real concern this resident had about the
difficulty she is going to have trying to get into her own apartment when she can no
longer make the climb? My father won’t visit me because he can’t climb the four
flights of stairs it takes to get to my apartment. I get her concern. So, what are we at
WVH going to do about those who are aging, or have physical challenges, or for
those who become unexpectedly physically challenged in our community?
At this meeting Jim Bozart also announced the formulation of a real estate
committee. I would like to be a member of that committee. The notice that went out
suggested that committee members should have “experience” in real estate and/or
related professions. I am an individual who is passionate about, motivated to
participate in, and dedicated to projects I believe in. I’d love to sit on this committee.
Shouldn’t all WVH residents be invited to join this committee whether or not they
have experience? I know some residents who want to join. And why is experience
needed if the committee is exploratory? Do we already have plans in the works?
I hope my interests are evident in the proposal of a “concept” I drafted recently. My
concept is a conversion plan that projects that, as residents (shareholders and
renters), we at WVH will be far better off if we look into the prospect of a complete
redevelopment of the footprint we own in the West Village.
My plan suggests that WVH shareholders, renters and sponsor can benefit from a
dramatic increase in the value of our shares and enjoy an exponentially improved
quality of life here in the West Village, without compromise or inconvenience over
the next ten years if we establish a partnership with a development group who is
willing to take this on. This can become a model redevelopment example for New
York City and the world.
Simply put, my concept proposes that we begin the process of demolishing the WVH
complex one building at a time, so as to minimize the disruption of people’s lives,
and replace each building with an architecturally sound, thoughtful, “green”, fullamenity
building toward the development of a complex that preserves the beauty,
integrity and aesthetic of the West Village, while bringing unique benefits to our
neighborhood and dramatically improving the quality of life for every WVH
You have as vivid of an imagination as I do about how much more amazing it could
be living in the West Village in brand new apartment units, or at very least how
much our loved ones who will inure the benefits of our generosity in years to come
will appreciate our forward thinking.
Additionally, a conversion can remove the $40M encumbrance that the current
proprietary lease imposes on all of us by eliminating our debt to the city and
obligations to HUD. If we sell off one building that would take care of it all! We’d be
free! A conversion will also increase the value of our shares because the value of a
luxury condo building in this location goes beyond the imagination in terms of price.
One of the most incredible benefits of a condo conversion would be that none of us
will ever have to depend solely on a board to make decisions on our behalf again. A
conversion would lead to a full‐service condo complex with a five‐star rating and
top brass management who would have an explicit interest in providing five‐star
service while catering to the demands of many outside purchasers who would be
expecting five‐star accommodations in their five‐star building shared with us.
Oh, and another point that really makes this attractive to me is there will be a
measurable increase in value. Remember the last time you called your bank to
refinance your apartment and they told you it would cost you more in interest
because you live in a co‐operative apartment. Never again! You are going to own the
brick and mortar, and the banks will see the value of your apartment as tangible
property, not shares in a corporation, because it is condominium. And we’ll make
certain that the closing costs – should there need to be closing costs, are paid for by
the developer. Making the arrangement one that does not cost us a dime.
Yes, I know it sounds like science fiction, but every single idea that comes to fruition
does so because someone or many people SEE it and BELIEVE it can be. I believe if
we don’t create some options now we may be heading into a future at WVH, like
around March 9th, 2017, where many of us will no longer be able to pay our
maintenance because escalations from taxes temporarily forgiven will come due.
And if you think you will simply flip your apartment and walk away, brace yourself,
because so many residents will want to do the same thing it will cause a girth of
available properties at WHV and you will get stuck with your inevitably devalued
piece of the rock until you can’t hold on to it any longer and have to sell it at an even
more devalued price.
The recent announcement (by the current board) of the formulation of a real estate
committee is a step in the right direction. Before now, it seemed we were not really
thinking about our financial future and ownership interests. We have one of the
most valuable real estate footprints in NYC. So why not develop interests around
this wealth. And why not invite people who want to work on the best deal for all of
us to sit on the committee.
Unfortunately, we’re just not talking out loud about it. It always seems to take a law
suit, or uprising to get things on the table. Why not just start holding open meetings
to get some of this on the table. Let’s create some scenarios that could occur on
March 9th, 2017 and thereafter and what’s at stake for all of us. Let’s talk about
whether or not it is seriously worth considering a partnership with a developer who
can offer us a really nice deal in exchange for developing our foot print into what
can become a world‐class, luxurious, green residential community.
Why not set up an evening where we invite developers to come to us with proposals,
designs, architectural drawings and models. Let’s have some fun with this and get a
bidding war happening. What could it cost us? Some craft services (go DB) and a
night or two of gatherings, and oh yes, a few weeks of WVH management time to
coordinate the effort. I think we can handle the local recognition – no, global
It’s simple for me. I believe that if we are going to spend (and will continue to
spend) millions of dollars out of our own pockets on repairs that are “needed”, that
exist because of the poor quality of construction of the entire WVH complex, and
over time have to come to terms with other aging factors that are going to induce
more spending and more inconvenience (not sure if you had your steps removed
over the summer), and frankly, I can’t imagine making any improvements that are
actually improvements. I’d prefer to make a deal now and be slightly
inconvenienced in the near future, knowing I will be able to continue to live
peacefully and comfortably in the West Village in a fabulous apartment, for the rest
of my life.
As you read this I hope you are not distracted by the neighbor’s TV blasting through
the walls, or the dogs barking above and below you, or the ongoing family disputes
that penetrate the walls with personal details than, personally, I’d rather not know.
Instead imagine this – a majestic view of the Hudson River from your private
terrace. Golden rays of sunlight that fill your apartment all day long. Your body
warmed by hot water baseboard heat. Or, a barefoot walk across a grassy commons
just outside your patio door. Or, how about rehabilitating your bad knees while
appreciating the convenience of visiting the exercise room on your floor? Or taking a
few laps in the rooftop pool. Or having a concierge to greet you with all the mail you
now receive from family members you haven’t heard from in ages.
And if none of this peaks your interest then how about a saunter through a network
of skywalks that span from one building to the next leading to one solarium after
another four, five, six stories above the streets, taking you from Bank to Morton on a
High Line waltz without a stranger in sight. And voila! There will be elevators!
If you have an imagination and the courage to think it’s possible we can make this
happen right now! Fondly remembering – Steve Jobs!
West Village Houses Resident
RISE TO THE FUTURE