Co-op and condo owners whose boards are in favor of adding a rooftop deck, exercise room or play area should think twice before shooting down the idea for fear it will be too expensive. Imagine the time you'd gain in your busy schedule if you could do your daily workout right downstairseven better, if you could drop your child at an indoor play area right next to the exercise room. In many co-ops and condos the rooftop is underutilized. Wouldn't it be a luxury to be able to go upstairs to a rooftop deck or garden to catch a few rays and enjoy some outdoor time?
High end buildings aren't the only ones with the means to turn a dreamed-about amenity into reality. Some buildings are fortunate enough to have a substantial reserve fund. The monies can be obtained from this source, says Suz Landi, senior account executive at Charles H. Greenthal Management Corp. in Manhattan. But buildings that are not as wealthy can raise maintenance or carrying charges, either temporarily or permanently. Or a special assessmentan additional charge for a limited period of timecan be levied until the necessary money has been collected. Later, a fee for usage of the amenity can help recoup some of the money spent.
Obtaining support of the proposed project by building residents can be more difficult than finding the money to pay for it or the space in which to install it. Not all residents always agree with every decision to add an amenity to their building. An individual who has no children, for example, might not see the value of a play area. Similarly, someone who spends every weekend at a country cottage might not be in favor of creating a rooftop deck. According to a source at Gumley-Haft, a residential management firm in Manhattan, the board of directors can seek the participation of the entire building by sending a letter to all residents. If a large majority are in favor, the project can proceed. Or, the board can have a preliminary meeting to discuss the matter, and then assign an individual or committee to seek proposals. After a question and answer session, the matter can be presented for a vote at the annual meeting.
One resident at an Upper West Side co-op says that about three years ago a portion of the laundry room was walled off to install a gym. She was told that in 15 to 20 years the investment would pay off, but feels that's a lot of time to wait. She can't help but notice that thousands of dollars of the building's money are being spent on carpeting, mirrors, air conditioning and what looks like some very expensive exercise equipment. She questions whether the expenditure is warranted since, as far as she can tell, shareholders from only 25 to 30 of the 100 units use the gym.