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At our annual meeting, we announced that we are going to renovate our lobby. Everyone was very excited but now I have 90 shareholders who want to choose the color of the walls. Help! Signed, Perplexed President
This is a lose-lose situation because no matter which color is chosen, someone is going to complain.
As co-op board president, you were elected to oversee everything in your building from finances to paint, and you need to carry out the responsibilities of the board as well as be as inclusive as possible—a tough balancing act. I suggest that you ask for a “renovation committee” to be created. The more people you have involved, the less complaints you will get. Sprucing up a lobby is certainly one way to add value to a building. It is, after all, a first impression.
Some buildings put together two or three plans and post them in the lobby for people to give their opinion. Then, the committee chooses the plan with the most votes. I would also remind you that a lobby is not anyone’s personal apartment so neutrals are best. You might consider hiring a professional to guide you. It may add a few dollars to the budget but could help in the long run. You should also keep in mind that anything more involved than cosmetic changes could invoke ADA laws, if your building is not already handicapped accessible.
Obviously, you cannot have 90 opinions or the work will never be completed. But if people voice their ideas and you can commit to a basic scheme, you might get away with a lovely new lobby and not an overwhelming amount of complaints.
Dianne Ackerman is the new voice of reason behind Ms. Demeanor. She has lived in her Upper East Side co-op for the past 20 years and is the vice president of her co-op board. She is filled with opinions that she gladly shares with all who ask—and some who do not. Have something that needs sorting out? Drop her an email.
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