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Lords of Trafalgar okay $7-million condo facelift MIKE BOONE, The Gazette Published: 7 hours ago A 93-per-cent approval rating is difficult to achieve on this side of the Great Wall. But that's the vote Norman Glouberman got to approve repairs at the Trafalgar condominiums. Fixing the walls and roof of the 70-year-old building on Côte des Neiges Rd. above Cedar Ave. is going to take three years and cost an estimated $7 million. Glouberman, who chairs the eight-member Trafalgar board of administrators, got the okay from residents in 53 of the building's 57 units. Four dissidents are suing to contest the project, but the overwhelming majority has carried the day and work began in May. "The first information session did not go well - $4 million to $5 million for the masonry was a big shock for everyone," says Norman Glouberman, head of Trafalgar's board of administrators.View Larger Image View Larger Image "The first information session did not go well - $4 million to $5 million for the masonry was a big shock for everyone," says Norman Glouberman, head of Trafalgar's board of administrators. There's scaffolding up the Côte des Neiges side of the three-tower complex. Pallets of bricks and mortar are stacked amid luxury sedans in the courtyard. After leaving the keys to my unluxurious car with the Trafalgar doorman yesterday, I rode the vintage elevator, with its sliding brass grate door, up to Glouberman's fourth-floor condo. He and his wife have a seven-room, 2,200-square-foot unit, and Glouberman's share of the repair bill will be $170,000. Even at this elevated socio-economic stratum, that's not chump change. And no one turned handsprings - probably ill-advised at their age, anyway; two of the condo owners are 90-somethings - when residents were told the Trafalgar needed a facelift. "Unlike apartments, in a condo arrangement everyone has a say," Glouberman said. "Normally, people don't say anything. But when there's money involved ..." The Trafalgar was built - by the grandfather of Montreal restoration architect Julia Gersovitz - as apartment units in 1933 for $1 million. That was serious money in the Dirty Thirties. "The sad part," Glouberman said, "is I've been told that during the 1970s, which was really tough times for real estate, the building was sold for $1 million." That was then. The Trafalgar is evaluated at $55 million. A 3,300-square-foot condo recently sold for $1.4 million. Glouberman has lived there nine years. There's been minimal turnover - about 20 per cent in that time. Who would move? It's a honey of a location on the slope of Mount Royal, with dazzling views of downtown. Glouberman, who's an architect, walks to his Ste. Catherine St. office. Even great buildings start to crumble. The Trafalgar underwent masonry repairs in 1995, but a three-year renovation project was stopped after one year because residents didn't want to spend money on repairs that were not deemed necessary. That was a mistake. "We knew there were minor problems with the masonry," Glouberman said, "but not major problems." Three years ago, the condo board commissioned a thorough study of what ought to be done. The leaky roof could be repaired for $1.5 million and the garage could be fixed for $750,000. "But $4 million to $5 million for the masonry was a big shock for everyone," Glouberman said. "The first information session did not go well." No one - not even a rich downtown condo owner - likes a $150,000 repair bill. But almost every property owner realizes home repair is a good investment - especially in a high-class building like the Trafalgar. Not that it's perfect. The elevator remembers only the floor number pressed by the first passenger to board. Rosemary's Baby vibe notwithstanding, that's the charm of the Trafalgar: a 93-year-old resident drives her car, and the elevator has Alzheimer's. [email protected]