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Sit Back and See What’s Going On

Charles Fels, board president

Cryder House, Queens

By Manhattan standards, the Queens cooperative known as the Cryder House is a fairly large property. Located at Cryder’s Point, the 20-story building sits on seven landscaped acres partially underneath the Throgs Neck Bridge. But, says board president Charles Fels, “as far as Queens properties go, [the 237-unit co-op] is small compared to the other large entities around us. “You have North Shore Towers in northern Queens. You have the Towers at Water’s Edge. You have the Bay Club. You have Le Havre, which is a large complex right near us. We’re the smallest of those.”

After a number of frustrating years working with outside managers, the board brought management in-house, hiring a full-time, on-site agent four years ago. “Our back office management is done with the Lovett Group,” says Fels, who has been president for the last seven years. “We have a resident manager who lives in and manages the building.”
Why did you change to in-house management?

The problem is that, unless you can afford to put management in five days a week, at least, it really doesn’t work [in a building of this size]. There should be someone on the grounds to understand what’s going on on a day-by-day basis. We had a manager who would come in two or three times a week, and that didn’t work.
It’s also important if you’re doing work at the building to have a resident manager. You’ve done a number of big projects, haven’t you?
We revitalized the gym that we had. We did a conversion years ago from oil to natural gas. We now filter all our water systems in the building. We have a heating and air conditioning system which is old-fashioned hot water/cold water lines. We put automatic valves in so in case there’s a leak, we can shut down one line independently in the whole building [without affecting] everybody.

What do you think is attractive about your building?

I moved in here about 11 years ago. What attracted me is that it sits right on the water. It’s one of the few buildings that gives you direct accessibility to the East River. We have our own dock. You can actually launch a kayak from our dock.

Why did you join the board?

I had seen a lot of shortcomings. A lot of things weren’t attended to. Coming out of a business that I ran for a lot of years, I was always a hands-on type of person. I felt that I can contribute to the quality of the lifestyle here at the building. I was in the retail business. I dealt in all different aspects of it [and] I dealt with people.
What would you advise other people if they were serving on the board for the first time?

Sit back, watch, and see what’s going on.
What about people who have their own agenda? Does that ever happen?

Yes [laughs]. That becomes annoying. You should find out why certain things are being done and why they’re not being done. If you go on pre-set ideas, you’re not contributing. You can always make suggestions. A lot of people come in and say, “Why don’t you do this? Why don’t you do that [without looking at our history]?”
How do you deal with your fellow board members?

I give them respect. That is the most important thing.

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