It’s no secret that in this economic climate, everyone is trying to find a way to save money. For the city’s co-op and condo communities, this has meant a great deal of scaling back on budgets, cutting some projects and reshuffling plans for renovations, major capital improvements and even regular maintenance work in some cases.
“People are cutting back,” says Georgia Barton of Manhattan-based management company Morton Andrews, Ltd. “We’re finding that a lot of the more decorative aspects of renovations are being postponed.”
Greg Cohen, president of Queens-based Impact Management, concurs. “Absolutely, with everything going up, there’s only so much you can squeeze the shareholders with,” he says. “We’re putting things off left and right. Hallways aren’t getting painted, landscaping projects are being put off. I even have boards who have stopped putting their employees in uniform. Wherever they can save money, that’s what they are doing.”
Postponing a planned project may be a quick fix for saving money now, but it’s important to make sure a delayed project isn’t going to adversely affect the building’s bottom line in the long run. There needs to be a balance struck between saving money and going ahead with necessary fixes, or else a too-stringent board can find themselves facing emergency repairs or possibly costly legal headaches further down the line.
In any down economy, cosmetic projects and improvements are usually the first on the chopping block. “Buildings are putting off changing elevator cabs or remodeling hallways,” says Michael Jay Wolfe, president of Midboro Management Inc. in Manhattan. “They hope the economy will settle down and real estate taxes won’t increase significantly. That’s the number-one factor for all these buildings.” Wolfe says that other nice-but-not-essential projects being put on hold include carpet replacement, changing the light fixtures, and even some kinds of exterior work.