Finally, on the last day of the month, after innumerable delays, they started tearing out the existing walls
At one point a month or two ago we were lamenting all the delays in getting our condo project underway and Mark observed that in the worst of circumstances – the worst – it would certainly be going by October. We finally received our building permit on September 11 and signed a contract with our general contractor the next day. Demolition was scheduled to start on September 23 and we planned a pre-demolition party for the 21st. Everything was set.
The party goes off without a hitch. It was relatively small because it was kind of a last-minute thing, but a lot of fun. People we’ve only recently met in New York, old friends from college and early career, two people we met on our travel extravaganza – one in Bali, the other in Morocco – who are New Yorkers and part of our new local network of friends. A lot of fun.
Party night with Hiro and Ann
But there was to be one more delay. On Friday evening, with demolition scheduled for Monday, the building super (the guy in charge of things day-to-day) mentioned to Mark that we couldn’t start on Monday because we didn’t have the electrical and plumbing permits. We had the building permits but not the subcontractors permits. What the …??
Well, the city doesn’t require it, but apparently our building requires you to have all the permits in place before you can start demolition. So Monday’s start date is pushed back a day so the subcontractors can pull their permits. Except on Monday the city’s online permit application system is broken. And it’s broken on Tuesday. And Wednesday. No permits, no demolition. Limbo.
The demolition crew had moved their equipment in the weekend before demolition was to begin but it just sat there unused for another week
By Thursday Mark and I have had it. We go to our city councilor’s office to lodge a complaint. How are we supposed to do a project when your system is broken? Mark files a complaint online with the Mayor’s office. And then we go our building super and beg. There’s no objective need for those permits, and the subcontractors are trying to pull them but the city’s system is broken with no indication when it will get fixed.
Eventually he relented. OK, you can have your guys get started. It takes a couple days of course to get the crews ready so finally on Monday, September 30, we broke ground so to speak. If the absolute worst case scenario was that we would start by October 1, well, we cut it pretty close. The project, though, is finally underway.
Day One. Just six or eight months to go now.
We’ll post more pictures from the demolition soon but meanwhile I should add that the rest of September, aside from the frustrations of construction delays, was a lot of fun. The first weekend we celebrated Mark’s sister’s birthday with Jeanne and her husband Jamal, along with our great friends Dan & Laura. Other highlights included an evening at the Metropolitan Museum for a members-only opportunity to view their exhibition on rock and roll instruments, an Elizabeth Warren volunteer event, lots of furniture shopping, the conclusion of Mark’s root canal (OK, that wasn’t fun), more house guests, and piano shopping.
Jamal, Jeanne, & Laura celebrating Jeanne’s 50th birthday
Oh yeah, and keeping with our efforts to be cultural we saw two plays over the course of September. First up was Sunday, a play that was pretty much boring. You just never cared about the characters or what was happening. Later in the month we saw Soft Power at the Public Theater, the famous theater immediately adjacent to our condo. If I described it as a musical about a Chinese-American who in 2016 meets the next president of the U.S. – Hillary Clinton! – and then changes the course of history, well, it would be true but wouldn’t do it justice. It was one of those shows that’s great to watch and then really gets under your skin so you can’t stop thinking about it. There’s a measurable chance it will be headed to broadway after its run at the Public, so stay tuned.
Stay tuned now, soon to come are more pictures from the condo demolition and renovation!
One more photo of destruction from Day One
By the end of the third day an enormous amount had been removed. There was still a lot more but it was exciting to see the space with almost no interior walls left.
Nic, Naiky, and Mitch, our architecture and design team, in one of the final pre-demolition meetings on site
Jeanne relaxing on our daybed with Manhattan spread out behind her. We’re excited about the condo project finally getting underway but we do love our little apartment.
Dan liked the space too
Dan & Laura at our favorite Greek restaurant
Mark and his baby sister Jeanne
The streets of Greenwich Village. There’s a lot to love about New York City.
At almost any moment walking the streets of Manhattan you can see one gorgeous building or another
Speaking of things to love in New York, we discovered an incredible little Italian restaurant in Alphabet City just a few blocks from our apartment. The heavily accented owner is from Rome and she really, really knows how to run a great restaurant.
We sat outside for our first lunch at this little Italian place, with the interior decorated pretty festively
Signs of fall coming to New York
What else do I love about New York? I spend a surprising amount of time down on the East River walking, running, reading … just enjoying it. That’s the Williamsburg bridge connecting over to Brooklyn. Interesting to note, though, that while I love the East River, it’s actually a tidal estuary, not a river. Big difference.
More from the party, here’s Mark with old college classmate Jane.
We brought chalk to the party knowing there would be some kids who would enjoy it. What we forgot is that the husband of a friend of a friend is an artist and that he would take a few moments to decorate the place.
And here’s Mark with Alex on the right, the rental agent we worked with to get our apartment, and Alex’s friend whose name I sadly forget
Other great moments in September included a members-only evening at the Met, where among other highlights was an exhibit of rock and roll instruments. You can tell who used this.
This gold piano was the one Jerry Lee Lewis (“Great Balls of Fire”) used in his house for sixty years, from 1957 to 2017
Lady Gaga’s piano. I think that would look stunning in our condo!
Speaking of pianos, we made a couple of trips up to the Steinway showroom, considering getting a piano for the condo. Neither of us play (yet) but the space just seems to beg for a grand piano. Here is Betsy, our salesperson, showing a used piece that someone had just bought. For what it’s worth, ours will be black. And it just may play itself.
Culture? After seeing the play “Soft Power” we went to a little after-show cocktail party open to members. Here Mark is with most of the cast. The guy standing just to his right was playing the lead, though he is normally the understudy. If the understudy was that good I can only imagine how good the normal lead actor must be.
Mark got all cultural and joined Ajay for the film Pain and Glory at the New York Film Festival. Here is director Pedro Almodóvar discussing the film afterward. He reports that the movie was incredibly beautiful.
Our friend Dara (right) had an extra ticket to Outstanding in the Field, a fun dinner that was held on a 2-acre rooftop farm in Brooklyn. So Mark joined her, along with her friend Carole and her nephew Jake. We’d heard Carole’s name for 30 years, though we’d never met. And we hadn’t seen Jake since he was about six. Both were so interesting and fun.
Jake and Carole made fun dining companions
Speaking of dining companions, here’s Meredith joining us for dinner and an overnight stay in our apartment. We last saw Meredith in Bali where she was dreaming of starting her own yoga business, running yoga retreats in exotic places around the world. We encouraged her, she took the leap, and started a successful business. Sadly, she then developed Lyme’s Disease which has really put a crimp in her ability to teach yoga. She’s still pushing though, and was with us on her way to Greece for one of her retreats.
I love this picture of Meredith and Mark
Finally, we closed the month with a fabulous visit from Tony and Sharon, a couple from Adelaide, Australia we met while biking in India. Hearing of our adventure they decided to pack it all in for a year and travel the world. I know, just a year. Sad. But they’re having a great time, and what would world travel be without a week in New York? And that’s right, no one should be surprised seeing them drinking Perfect Manhattans in our apartment.