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Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



How to Be Open to New Ideas

The Challenge

We manage a 425-unit co-op in Yonkers that faced a dilemma: the roadway from the main street into the complex was deteriorating. The board hired an engineer to evaluate the situation. What they found was that half of the roadway was a bridge that was over 50 years old. It was the only way in and out of the property, and it was going to be a major expenditure.

The Solution

The cost was estimated at a minimum of $2.5 million to do the repairs and rebuild the bridge. The co-op fortunately had refinanced about four years before, so it had $2.5 million to $3 million in the reserve fund, but the project was going to be financed partially from reserves and partially from an assessment. While the contractors were bidding on the project, one of them said it might be more cost-effective to get rid of the bridge, fill in the space, and make it an actual roadway. Because this was coming from a contractor, the board then hired a second engineer to get an opinion. The board took a leap, and at a cost of $40,000, the engineer designed a plan to rebuild the structure as a roadway rather than as a bridge. The low bid for construction was about $1.7 million.

The Lesson

The biggest lesson is to listen. If we hadn’t listened to this contractor who had another idea, the board would probably be into a $2.5 million job rather than something substantially less expensive. The board was open to ideas. We didn’t know if it would work or not, but the members were willing to fund a new engineering study to see if there was an alternative.

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