History -- Ocean Place Maintenance of Capital Items
Would you believe our building is 37 years old? It was built by Purnell-Jarvis in 1982-1983. The original sales brochure is attached. Look at those prices. At that time there was a condominium boom and Ocean City grew quickly. Purnell-Jarvis built several masonry buildings in Ocean City. Some look a lot like our building and have many of the same construction features. It is built on pilings and many engineers who have inspected our building will give you facts and opinions about that. There is settlement and for that reason masonry buildings need repairs/restorations over time.
There are some, not many, of our current owners who purchased original units back in 1983. Needless to say we are not youngsters. I am one of them. I recall the original condominium owners meeting in 1983 when Purnell-Jarvis turned the building over to the owners. George Purnell gave some advice. He said the masonry building will require constant maintenance over time. Do not be afraid of caulking it, repairing it, and painting it on a regular basis. He said “It will be exposed to some of the worst weather conditions. Do the best you can to maintain it”.
Originally the east front surface was concrete block with a masonry parged coating. It was not long before forceful northeasters, tropical storms, and hurricanes pounded the building and there was water infiltration. This occurred at many ocean front buildings in Ocean City. At the time the Board called in George Purnell and complained and raised questions. He agreed to install a dryvit system on the ocean front building. That was in 1990. That is referred to now as EIFS. It served two purposes -- cosmetic because it gives the appearance of a smooth surface and provides a barrier against water infiltration.
It worked and water problems were much improved. However, after a few more years there were additional water problems caused by the windows. During heavy storms, water could be seen coming through windows. Unfortunately water that comes in runs down so many units suffered the consequences. Probably not every window leaked but many did. The Board called in window experts including Charles Brown Glass in Salisbury. After a lot of discussion, there was a recommendation to remove existing windows (builder grade not totally suitable for ocean front) and install a new much improved window in every ocean from unit. That was in 1994. Because of our bylaws, owners had to pay for the cost of the new windows. Only the ocean front windows were replaced. After that for several years there were no more water problems. But then we began to see water problems from the roof.
The fifth floor units were most affected but there were a few cases where water from the roof got into beams and traveled great distances even to units below. The roof had large stones on it. At that time flat roofs like ours were often held down by ballast or large stones. I can recall going on the roof trying to find a leak over a particular unit and moving stones just to see the tar paper on the roof. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack. The Board took care of problems working with Ocean City roofing contractors. But it got worse and worse. A decision was made to install a new roof and do away with the stones. That occurred in 2004.
The new roof was an innovative design at the time for flat roofs. A sloping roof and new roof drains were installed. No more stones and the roofing was easily accessible. It solved the roof leaking problems for several years. Then a northeast storm caused the northeast section of the roof to peel off. That was repaired and again in another storm a larger section of the east building roof came off this time causing damage to some fifth floor units. A new roof was installed on the ocean front building. Unfortunately it occurred sooner than the roof warranty period. At the same time the roofs on the north and south buildings were replaced although they were not leaking. This occurred in 2016 about 5 years before the life expectancy of the roof. This unexpected huge expenditure drastically decreased the existing reserves account.
A reserve account for capital items has always existed for Ocean Place. Periodically the Board contracted for reserve analyses prepared by engineering firms. The last was prepared by the engineering firm, George Miles and Buhr. Up until recently there were no special assessments at Ocean Place because the reserve fund was sufficient. Every new annual budget assumed an amount that would be put in reserves. This was guided by the reserve analysis. As the amount needed to increase, condo fees increased. Generally the building underwent masonry restorations every 8 to 10 years. There have been three masonry restorations before the current one. These included concrete repairs, caulking of all joints, painting of all masonry surfaces, and painting of balcony and walkway flooring. In the last restoration in 2009, all railings were painted and base supports were replaced. In the past there have been two roof replacements and two swimming pool restorations. These were funded from the Reserve Fund.
The fourth masonry restoration was originally planned for 2018 but was delayed until 2020. A new complete roof replacement was not anticipated to occur in 2016. Consequently the reserve fund amount was drastically reduced. During the preparation work for the new restoration it was discovered that the EIFS system that was installed in 1990 had to be replaced. It was also decided to install all new railings and new partitions. As we know the cost for the latest restoration rose from an originally estimated amount of $1 million to $2.6 million. That is why there is a special assessment.
As we focus on the future, the Board will have to update its reserve fund analysis and plan levels of funding for the Reserve Fund. The next restoration, probably in 8 to 10 years, will not be as extensive. But in the meantime there are other capital expenditures like elevators, swimming pool, and parking lot that need to be considered. This information is critical and the sooner we get it the sooner we will be able to estimate future condo fees and Reserve Fund levels.
Written by Ron Deacon
Written by Ron Deacon
It was not long after 1983 that the ocean was lapping at the first floor of Ocean Place. During a hurricane in the late eighties, ocean water hit the first floor and actually broke one of the first floor unit sliding glass doors. The Board decided we needed a protective sand dune. The Board paid for sand to be dumped right in front of the building to create a dune. Fortunately for us, others had the same problems and Ocean City government realized that a protective dune was needed all along the ocean coast. The US Corps of Engineers, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and the Town of Ocean City teamed up to build a protective sand dune, much larger than what Ocean Place had constructed. We actually still have our original dune and the Ocean City dune is in front of that. Ocean Place had to sign over an easement so that the dune could be maintained forever. The Board was delighted to do this because we would have protection for life. From time to time as we know the dune is replenished and hopefully will forever protect us as much as possible.
Out of the blue about ten years ago, the Town of Ocean City decided it would install paid parking on 146th Street. A few other streets in Ocean City were also selected but they were much further south. The Board had no warning and immediately began a long crusade to stop paid parking. It was inconsistent with all other parking in Ocean City which is free. What was most troubling was that 146th Street was selected arbitrarily. One reason given was that Ocean Place had so much parking available that no one ever had to park on 146th Street anyway. Of course that was not true. Whatever the reason Ocean City selected 146th Street, it did not anticipate the reaction from Ocean Place. The Board attended several Council meetings, conducted a petition against paid parking, worked with local political officials and finally stopped the paid parking. Meters had already been installed but they were all removed. In a press article, the mayor at the time who is still the current mayor commented that he would never back another effort to install paid parking on 146th Street. Not everyone realized what it would mean. Any Ocean Place resident who could not park in our lot and had to park on 146th Street would have to pay a hefty fee. It would have been very unfair. The Board tried to gain support from the motel at the back of our parking lot but it was really not interested. However, it gained much from the Board’s work. Otherwise all their patrons who could not fit in their lot would have to pay a hefty price to park.
As we know, flood insurance is critical to ocean front owners. About five years ago, the flood insurance program attempted to redraw all the Ocean City flood maps. It would place our building in a different flood zone and could have a tremendous impact on our premium rates. Ocean Place was singled out because of its location next to Delaware . The board immediately consulted a civil engineer who worked with the flood insurance program on our behalf to change the map. Once again we are located in the safe zone and our insurance premium rates are like other buildings in Ocean City.