Tom Soter in Bricks & Bucks
"We only had one elevator working and we had a mobile boiler on the street until April ," says Coleen McKeon, who works for Douglas Elliman as the property's manager. "At that point, we were finally able to start actually thinking about aesthetics — about making the place look attractive."
They were finally able to tackle the lobby in April 2013. After interviewing two designers, the seven board members hired Tina Tilzer, owner of Art & Interiors. Work began in September.
One element that was central to Tilzer's design was a grand crystal chandelier that had survived the catastrophe. "We re-did the architectural detailing that was destroyed and enhanced it and kept the integrity and elegance of this building," Tilzer explains.
Surprisingly — for a task that most professionals consider among the most controversial projects a board can undertake — there were few complaints. "In the beginning that was probably the only controversy — selecting the colors," recalls McKeon.
"We went back and forth on color schemes, and then, from those, she started to show the board a variety of furnishing options and then from there they moved on to what they wanted," adds McKeon.
The main level of the two-story lobby "changed a little bit," Tilzer notes. "We eliminated the dental office that was at the end even though they liked the idea of the income but they couldn't seem to rent the space. So, they opted to make it an exercise room/gym."
The board met regularly with Tilzer, contractor Peter Evans of American Bath Company, and the managing agent, keeping the residents informed on progress via 700shore.com. McKeon feels that keeping shareholders in the loop eliminated any possible complaints.
For the entire building, including the electrical work and the boiler, the price tag was probably about $3.2 million, but the work that Tilzer did was somewhere in the range of half-a-million dollars.
The property paid for the lobby and all the rest of the work with money from its insurance policy; and additional coverage of $1 million came from the reserves and an assessment (for the boiler). The bulk of the work was finished by May 2014, although a few pieces of furniture were delivered in the fall.
Rebecca Kooper, the board president for part of that time, found the whole experience educational, to say the least. She had joined the board only five months before Sandy struck. "I knew that we needed good consultants," she says matter-of-factly. "I wasn't going to redesign the lobby myself; I knew that we had to get really good people to help out. We had this opportunity to make it better. And we did."
Coleen McKeon, property manager
Tina Tilzer, Art & Interiors
Peter Evans, American Bath Company
Rebecca Kooper, board president
Photo courtesy Coleen McKeon. Click to enlarge.
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