New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community
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Q&A at a 20-building housing complex.
Juggling the needs of your immediate neighbors with the needs of the entire community is a careful balancing act.
Windsor Park, a 1,830-unit co-op, is home to more than 5,000 people. Larry Kinitsky has lived at the 20-building housing complex since 1981.
How do you see your role as a co-op leader?
My role is to develop an ongoing strategic plan with our management company, Akam Associates; be the facilitator to ensure that we hit both our strategic and financial goals; be responsible for communications with our shareholders so they are aware of what’s going on; and bring people together to resolve issues as they arise.
What attracted you to this co-op?
My wife and I were looking for a place to live. We had grown up in the Bayside area, and we saw Windsor Park as the community we wanted to become a part of. It’s a great place, a great location, and it has lots of amenities. The area has great schools and shops. It is very special.
Two years after we arrived, Windsor Park converted from a rental to a co-op. We decided to buy the apartment as an investment to see where it would go. It turned out to be a great investment.
I have been on the board since 1986 and have seen a lot in my time, but the biggest challenges that we (and other co-ops) face of late are escalating operating costs and increasing regulations (which add significantly to those operating costs). We work really hard to come up with an annual budget that doesn’t have a tremendous impact on our shareholders. We are constantly juggling the need to raise capital to do all of the projects that we see ahead of us in the next few years and hold the line on operating costs.
The battle is very challenging – keeping our everyday operating expenses low and generating enough capital to complete a few million dollars worth of necessary capital projects. We have been fortunate to be able to fund those projects without going back to our shareholders for additional funds or assessments.
Did anything in your professional experience prepare you for this work?
I have been working in the financial industry for a very long time. My whole career has been in finance and management – understanding cash flows, projects, budgets, things of that nature. But just picking up knowledge of construction and project management throughout the years – that’s one of the benefits of having board continuity: you are able to learn things that you continue to use, as you would in any other career. There are things that may come up this year that might have come up 10 years ago or we may be dealing with issues that are somewhat similar from the past and we are able to draw on what we did years ago. Having a great management company also helps since they are dealing with many of these issues at other sites.
How do you juggle the needs of your neighbors with those of your community?
We meet with our shareholders at least twice a year to hear issues. Many of us on the board speak often with our neighbors and friends who also bring issues and ideas to our attention. The key here is to marry the needs of shareholders with the overall needs of the community. When that happens, you have created a great place to live and have improved shareholder value. As far as our building’s needs are concerned, we recognize [issues] and begin planning sometimes years in advance of a project. Our recent conversion to gas was planned for two years and took several months to complete. At the end, we converted to a greener and more efficient heating system and saved our shareholders well over a million dollars a year in heating costs. I’m not sure you could find a better fit of shareholder and building needs.
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