he Property Manager’s Guide to Lobby Renovations

The Property Manager’s Guide to Lobby Renovations

he Property Manager’s Guide to Lobby Renovations

Lobby renovations can be a long and arduous process, even when things go smoothly. As a building property manager, you play a crucial role in ensuring the project goes smoothly and efficiently – with minimal disruptions to the residents.

We Get It: You Already Have A Ton Of Responsibilities

If you’re a property manager of a condo or co-op building, you have a lot of responsibilities and have to attend endless meetings. You’re likely in charge of overseeing day-to-day operations including ensuring the building is safe and secure, managing budgets and finances, enforcing building rules and regulations, and of course, communicating with the residents and board, and handling complaints.

When a building you manage is ready for lobby renovations, your work can get doubly intense. I’m the president and founder of Sygrove Associates Design Group, a New York City interior design firm that specializes in co-op and condo lobby renovations. A good relationship with the property manager is crucial to the successful completion of a project. Your participation is the key to ensure projects go smoothly, meet their budget guidelines, and result in spaces that the residents love coming home to.

In a perfect world, you would be able to follow all the tips I outline below; but the world isn’t perfect. The following tips will make the project less stressful before, during, and afterward.

he Property Manager’s Guide to Lobby Renovations

The Property Manager’s Guide to Lobby Renovations

As a building’s property manager, you are an essential part of a lobby renovation project. In fact, you’re the glue that connects the board, the designer team, and all the contractors and subcontractors. Here’s how to be a key contributor to the success of the project – without going nuts!

1. Be The CFO On The Project

Every purchase order, and there will be many, requires either payment in full or a deposit, so you’ll need to make sure all accounts are current and in order to avoid disruptions in the project schedule (and unhappy residents!).

  • Make sure all designer and outside consultant fee payments are expedited – until they say, “Go!”, contractors can’t begin their work.
  • Get approval from the Board on payment applications within the timeframe agreed upon in the contracts. It is your responsibility to submit and track the approvals and payments so contractors and vendors are paid in a timely manner. (This is critical to a happy project!)
  • Reconcile project expenses with the design team. As the Property Manager you should request a cost spreadsheet for the project costs – both contracting and purchasing of soft goods like furniture and fabric. Then, add any costs from outside consultants such as an expeditor, engineer, lighting designer, etc.

2. Attend The Meetings

We’ve done hundreds of lobby renovations and with every one, we ask the property manager to attend project meetings from the design phase, through to the construction phase, and finally, when punch lists are reviewed at the end.
It’s important that you develop a close working relationship with the design team and contractors, because you hold the key to a lot of what they need to start and complete the job:

  • You have the overall building schedule for other projects that may be going on simultaneously such as replacing the boiler or other mech systems, landscaping, and emergency work.
  • You hold a very important position – the “ambassador” of the building. Which means you’re the first person that interfaces with buyers. You answer their questions, provide recent building board minutes and financials, organize move-ins and move-outs, arrange for certificates of insurance, and direct them to the sales and transfers department.
  • You have a handle on what the residents want, need, and expect: personnel, shareholder, and unit holder relations.
  • You must inform the design team and contractors of the building’s safety protocols and make sure they follow them.
  • You need to understand the financials of the project – such as which payments are required, and when to submit them.
  • You’re in charge of ordering asbestos and lead testing, if your locality requires either of them. If any issues are discovered, you need to inform the renovation team ASAP.

he Property Manager’s Guide to Lobby Renovations

3. Be Communication Central

Good communication goes a long way to eliminate surprises during the course of the project and reduces the amount of calls and texts from curious (or irritated) residents. You should be in contact with:

  • Design Team & Contractor: We recommend you attend as many input meetings as possible from the beginning to the end of the project.
  • Insurance Company & Attorney: Be on top of your policies in case you need to provide proof of insurance and certificates of insurance. It is important to have a working relationship with the building’s attorney, as well.
  • Board & Residents: You’ll also need to be in contact with the Board to keep them informed of milestones in the project, such as:
    • When contractors will be in the building and what they’ll be doing.
    • When materials will be delivered to the building and where they’ll be stored.
    • What to expect during construction, especially disruptions that can impact their everyday lives such as access changes when floors are being replaced, if the route to the elevator will be temporarily changed, etc.
    • How things are going – residents love to know when they’ll see big changes and are typically very interested in the entire process.

4. Be A Facilitator

As the building’s property manager, it’s your duty to manage the vast amount of paperwork that’s involved in the lobby renovation project, as well. This includes:

  • If the project needs to be filed with your city’s building department or other local municipality, let the design and construction team know if you want them to use a specific code consultant and/or building department expeditor.
  • Getting Board approvals on required paperwork for project filing when necessary.
  • Keep everything organized and within easy access to protect the Board from having to deal with disputes.
  • Provide the building’s legal names. Buildings are typically referred to by their address or name (if they have one), but that does not mean those are their actual legal names, so it is important that this information is verified and correct before submitting to the DOB.
  • Make sure you get all required Board member signatures on documents that must be filed with your township and municipality.
  • Facilitate contact between the building’s attorney and the contractors’ attorney.
  • File all necessary work applications at your local department of buildings.
  • Coordinate all work with a design professional in your area – interior designer or architect.
  • Obtain asbestos abatement reports, if required in your area.

The Property Manager’s Guide to Lobby Renovations

I hope the Property Manager’s Guide To Lobby Renovations is a tool that makes your job a little bit easier.

About Sygrove Associates Design Group

We’re based in New York City and are hired by condo and co-op Boards around the country. If you manage a building that’s in the process of interviewing shared space designers, we may be able to help. We are the most sought-after interior designers in our field and have hundreds glowing reviews to prove it. With us, the project is always on schedule and on budget.

When buildings want to transform their worn and outdated lobbies and hallways into warm and welcoming spaces that residents love to come home to – they choose Sygrove!

Marilyn Sygrove
Founder & President
Sygrove Associates Design Group

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how important are amenity spaces in NYC apartment buildings, Marilyn Sygrove

How Important Are Amenity Spaces In NYC Apartment Buildings?

how important are amenity spaces in NYC apartment buildings, Marilyn Sygrove

Ideas to transform unused space into value-adding amenity spaces for condos and co-ops…

As everyone knows, New York City real estate is one of the most competitive markets in the world. There was a time when the majority of city residents rented their apartments. In the 1980s, however, hundreds of apartment buildings were converted from rentals to co-ops and condos, which made it possible for the average renter to finally own their own home. The problem was that many of the older buildings needed to renovate to attract qualified buyers because they quickly found out that amenity spaces in NYC apartment buildings are really important to buyers.

As a NYC interior designer, I saw the trend early, and my firm, Sygrove Associates Design Group, has been focused on lobby and hallway renovation ever since. But we do more than lobbies and hallways – our expertise in creating amenity spaces in NYC apartment buildings is well-known, too. And we’ve never had more requests for amenity spaces than we do today.

What Are Amenity Spaces?

Amenity spaces are areas that make life for residents and building staff more efficient and enjoyable. Amenity spaces can include package rooms, fitness areas, children’s playrooms, rooftop terraces, dog parks – the list goes on. Some buildings even have private dining rooms (we’ve worked on a few!).

In terms of convenience, a fitness area in your building keeps you from having to shlep out to the gym on nasty days. A spacious package storage room keeps your deliveries safe until you can retrieve them. And, a children’s playroom in your building is a godsend for parents of young kids.

But the biggest reason amenity spaces are important in NYC and NJ apartment buildings is they increase the value of the apartments.

the important of amenity spaces in NYC apartment buildings, sygrove associates

Amenity Spaces Increase Property Values

When buyers evaluate where they’d like to live, they not only consider the apartment’s square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, whether it has a home office, how the kitchen is laid out, etc. Today’s buyers also want to know what amenity spaces are in the building.

Some older buildings have a workout room, a roof area where people can hang out, or a kind of community room” – but typically, these areas are so out of date that they’re barely used, if at all. Most architects pre-1960s did not include amenity spaces in their plans and, in many cases, designed common areas that, at first glance, would not accommodate them.

4 Examples Of How We Solve The "No Space For An Amenity Space" Problem

A great benefit of being the leader in lobby and hallway renovations for over 40 years is that we have tons of problem-solving experience under our belts. My talented team accomplishes remarkable feats to carve out amenity spaces in older NYC buildings.

Here are four examples of amenity spaces in NYC apartment buildings:

How Important Are Amenity Spaces In NYC Apartment Buildings?

1. Dingy Basement Area Becomes A Children’s Playroom & Exercise Room

While working on a large project in a Manhattan co-op, the residents asked if there was a way they could have a children’s playroom and an exercise space – now that so many of them are working from home.

The problem was that there was no space for either room in their common areas.
So, we thought, “What about the basement?” When we mentioned it to the residents, we faced blank stares. They said, “There is an area downstairs, but it’s creepy!” Indeed, there was a neglected space where junk had been piling up for years, but it was perfect!

My team and I got to work and figured out how to transform this dark and gloomy dungeon into a happy, practical, and safe children’s playroom.

But what about the exercise room? We created a gym right next to the playroom. It’s big enough for a treadmill, stationary bike, free-weight rack, and weight bench. And it has windows that look right into the playroom – so parents can keep an eye on their children while they work out, and their children can keep an eye on them!
Our clients are absolutely thrilled with their new amenity spaces and are confident that their building is appealing to other young families and that their apartments will retain their value.

2. An Innovative Way To Create More Package Space

We are currently working in a building where the residents desperately need a new package storage area. They were embarrassed by the daily boxes and packages piled up in the lobby. And their door staff was frustrated by constantly being forced to leave their posts to retrieve them.

But, their lobby is small. We tried every trick in our book to figure out a way to carve out more storage space but finally had to admit there was just no way.
Then something incredible happened.

One of the residents heard about a first-floor apartment in the building next door for sale. The building bought it! We used that apartment to create a spacious package room right next to the doorman station. And we also added a lobby restroom which everyone appreciates!

Here’s what’s also really exciting: the apartment area we didn’t need is now a lovely studio that will either be rented or sold – bringing more revenue into the building. What a brilliant idea!

3. Transforming A Cavernous Basement Into Incredible Amenity Spaces

We’re known as lobby and hallway designers, but our work often goes way beyond that. To enhance residents’ quality of life and attract qualified buyers, the board of a co-op in Manhattan gave us a tour of their basement, where there was a wealth of unused raw space!

“Can you think of anything we could use this area for?” they asked. Could we! Plans are on the table for a spacious gym, a teen room, a multi-purpose room that can serve as a community center or party space, a wine cellar, and even a tasting room!

4. Tar Beach Becomes A Gorgeous Roof Top Lounge With 360° Views

We were contacted by a co-op in Manhattan that has a vast rooftop with magnificent views of the city and the river. But hardly anyone ever went up there. If anything, it was a tar beach for a few brave individuals.

Our plans for this incredible rooftop include a beautiful sunbathing area and a dining area for cocktail parties. We will transform a blank wall into a screen so the residents can enjoy Summer Movie Nights!

how important is an amenity space in your NYC apartment building, sygrove associates design group

So…how important are amenity spaces in NYC and NJ apartment buildings? Very! Amenity spaces:

  • Increase property values
  • Make life easier and more enjoyable for residents
  • Allow building staff to do their jobs more safely and easily
  • Give purpose to often neglected unused space

We love the challenge of creating amenity spaces for NYC apartment buildings. We are lucky to have so many amazing clients who allow us to use our creativity, resourcefulness, and skills to create spaces they love coming home to.


Read More About Amenity Spaces In The Spruce
View Our Lobby Photo Gallery 

Sygrove Interior Design Services

Sygrove Associates Design Group is an NYC interior design company. Our company’s founder Marilyn Sygrove is the lead interior designer on all projects. And she’s as tough as you are when it comes to quality, aesthetics, and coming in on time and on budget.

It all starts with a design consultation with Marilyn. She takes the time to thoroughly understand your design needs then personally directs all interior design, planning, and installation activities. Her work has been delighting clients, co-op and condo boards, and homeowners for over 30 years.

You can reach Marilyn by email at hello@sygrove.com or call her directly at 212.757.0631.

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