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Habitat Magazine October 2020 free digital issue

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ARCHIVE ARTICLE

Following a Process at Stoneleigh Parkway

Peter Incledon, Board President, Stoneleigh Parkway
Board member: 5 years
President since: 2016

After he retired as an investment manager in the financial services industry, Peter Incledon and his wife decided to downsize by selling their house in Bronxville and moving into the 74-unit Stoneleigh Parkway co-op nearby. Though his three children were grown and gone, there was no rest for Incledon, 55, who joined the co-op board five years ago and has been president for the past two. Early this year, the board set about renovating all the common areas in the co-op’s three six-story buildings, which were built in the 1950s and are connected by a communal hallway.

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Habitat: Because it involves personal taste, renovating public space is among the most controversial steps a board can take. How did you approach your recent lobby and hallway renovation?

Incledon: Design is a matter of taste, and people’s tastes differ. The important thing is that you have a process that people can look at from beginning to end about which they can say, “I may not agree with what happened or the final result. But I agree that the way that they got there, the process, was fair.” They’ve got to know that there was a process. That’s important. Our planning started about a year and a half ago. The carpets hadn’t been changed since 2002 or 2003. The wall hangings were in bad shape. So were the tiles on the floor. We had to get a handle on cost so that we could determine how we would fund it, and then we could communicate that to the shareholders.

Habitat: How did you end up paying for it?

Incledon: One-third through existing reserves, one-third through additional borrowing, one-third from an assessment. We budgeted it for between $700,000 and $800,000 and I expect it to come in on budget.Once we decided on a scope and a budget, we formed a design committee of three shareholders and two board members. We went about interviewing designers. We felt we needed someone with experience in residential lobbies and hallways to guide us. Each one of us had our own thoughts and experiences with design, and some people had a bit of design background, but that was more in their own homes. We wanted someone who’s been doing this for a long time and who knows what works, what products are durable and hold up, what design schemes are palatable to the majority of residents – things like that.

We interviewed five different designers – three were New York City firms, two were local. In the end, the design committee unanimously recommended that we hire Marilyn Sygrove. Before we even sat down with her, she asked the design committee to submit ideas. “Send me lobbies that you’ve seen that you like,” she said. There were numerous meetings where we’d sit down, and she would show us wallpaper, a light fixture, a carpet, paint colors, and furniture as we were going through each part of the project. The design had to reflect the style of the building. After she got information from us, she came prepared with three different schemes. Each of those would have three different types of wallpaper or three different carpet samples. She tried to steer us in directions that she thought were most appropriate.

Habitat: How transparent have you been with the shareholders about this, and do you think that’s important?

Incledon: Extraordinarily. It’s critical. For sales, the building is a cash-only building, which is a rarity. It’s an older resident population, somewhat affluent. They were all in favor. We just wanted to make sure that we were clear about the scope and cost of the project, so that if anyone had any feedback, they would have the opportunity to voice it before we got to the point of actually putting the project out for bidding.

We held a shareholder meet-and-greet session with Marilyn, where shareholders were able to ask questions. That was also a very important part of the project. It made everybody feel included.

Habitat: What role did the manager play?

Incledon: Rose Pilla of Hudson North was the direct contact person. She was involved with holding weekly project meetings and very involved in shareholder notifications.

Habitat: What was the greatest challenge in doing this project?

Incledon: Really in the end, for me, it has been a commitment of time. I’ve spent a lot of time managing the project, but the board members were all very involved in the process as well. To undertake a project like this, you do need a strong board where all the members are willing to dedicate their time.

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