Why did you want to be on the board?
I thought that I could handle and organize things much better [than they had been handled] and knew what changes I would like to address.
Lobby, elevator conversion, a gym, storage lockers and a bike room: How did you get all your many projects done?
It took a few years. When I first came on, many of the board members were original shareholders who had been renters, and they were resistant to change. They just wanted to keep the status quo. But I thought we had to keep up with the market. We needed to make changes to increase the value of the apartments. There was wasted space down in the basement; that’s one of the reasons for building the gym and storage spaces.
A large number of your apartments are still owned by the sponsor and, as a result, you have a large number of rent-controlled and rent-stabilized units. Is that a problem?
Not really. Thirty percent of our apartments are still owned by a sponsor. We have worked real hard to make that a very harmonious living arrangement. We have no problems with the sponsor or with the tenants that are not shareholders. In a lot of buildings, there is a sharp division between shareholders and sponsor-owned apartments. In our building, if there is an issue, we work together.
Working with the sponsor is in your building’s best interest, isn’t it?
In a lot of buildings, if you wanted to have changes, there is nothing in it for the sponsor, so he would resist. But [this sponsor] is always very, very cooperative with us. That’s because I worked real hard with him, and I still do, to have a harmonious relationship.
What is an important lesson you have learned from serving on the board?
Don’t answer questions that shareholders may have [when they meet you in the hallways]; just invite them to come to a board meeting. So if someone stops me and says, “Oh, Dr. Kupper, can I talk to you about such and such a thing?” I’ll say, “No, send me an e-mail or come to the board meeting and we can discuss it.”
Photograph by Jennifer Wu. Click to enlarge.
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