Bendix Anderson in Co-op/Condo Buyers on December 19, 2019
When it opened in 1962, the 20-story Cryder House apartment building towered over the the Whitestone neighborhood in northeast Queens. It offered luxury amenities and heart-stopping views of Long Island Sound and the Throgs Neck Bridge, which had opened a year earlier.
Today, the waterfront Cryder House is a 237-unit co-op that still boasts great amenities and views, but it was falling behind in the competitive – that is, cutthroat – world of New York City real estate. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the co-op’s outdated website, which was designed years ago by a volunteer and has a decidedly amateurish feel.
“I wouldn’t even call it a website,” says Harvey Latterman, 68, a retired medical malpractice investigator who is vice president of the co-op board. “Buyers used to come from the local area, but we need to cast a wider net. We live in a competitive environment, and we realized we have to market ourselves. We decided that it was time to get out of the Stone Age. We didn’t want to get to the point where people started asking: ‘Why aren’t units selling?’ We want to appeal to younger people.”
And so the board decided to exit the Stone Age and step all the way into the Digital Age – by replacing its DIY website with a state-of-the-art model. But the nine-member board faced a challenge. “We were entering a realm that none of us had any familiarity with,” says Latterman. “We had to get past the inertia.”
The first step was to locate web designers. The board started talking to people in its management company, the Lovett Group, and wound up interviewing several designers before deciding to hire Lloyd Chrein of Chrein.com, who had designed Lovett’s original website in 2008 and recently updated it.
“The apartments have great views of Long Island Sound,” Chrein says. “They want to promote themselves as an option for people who want city living, but outside of Manhattan.” The new website, which will debut in early 2020, will include apartment floor plans as well as professional photographs of common areas, apartment interiors, the swimming pool, fitness center and landscaping of its six-acre site.
“It is going to be a relatively static page, at least to start,” says Chrein. The coding of the website will be partly “open source,” which means the web designers can add or subtract elements over time. In the future, Cryder House could add a section to its website just for residents, who would sign in with a password to read news about their community, leave comments on a message board, and view documents, such as the building’s by-laws, pet policies or building newsletter. Another section could allow residents to file work orders or pay their monthly maintenance.
The new website will cost well under $10,000. “That’s a drop in the bucket,” says Latterman, who notes that the board plans to spend several hundred thousand dollars to renovate its parking garage and parking deck in spring 2020.
As Latterman sees it, the $10,000 will buy something that’s priceless: “You have to have a website that grabs people. It’s going to be very user-friendly, and it’ll make it easier for people to look at us and find us. It should increase interest in people wanting to live here. Cryder House used to be considered a secret gem – and now we want it to be not so secret.”
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