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Co-op Board President Shelly Kupper: “I could organize things much better"

304 W. 75th Street, Upper West Side, Manhattan

Shelly Tupper. Photo by Jennifer Wu.
Shelly Kupper
July 9, 2014

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.”


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Photograph by Jennifer Wu. Click to enlarge.

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