New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



The Ref

Married for five years, with no children, Frank Aprilano, 53, moved into the 1,213-unit, 12-building Clinton Hill cooperative in Brooklyn in 2004. What attracted him to the property? “It was the apartment itself. The layouts in Clinton Hill are great layouts,” he says. “It’s great space. It was good value for the money. Actually, what has detracted from our ongoing increase in value and one of the things that stuck in my craw when we bought was the fact that the exterior looks like the projects.”

I grew up in Rochester, New York, and was a straight-A student, because my father and mother, who ran a drugstore, did a very good job of instilling a very high level of work ethic in me; I always did my homework, always studied, and always did the best at whatever I was doing.

I studied accounting in college but eventually crossed over into finance, working for Fidelity Investments in Boston, then at HBO in New York, and, finally, for the last 17 years, at a large international law firm, currently part of the global real estate team handling worldwide commercial leasing activities.

Five days a week my work is very unpredictable. I am usually up every morning at 3 and in bed by 9 P.M. My day is usually spent on initiatives relating to real estate. It could be anything from revising design guidelines to working in Paris on a lease.

I served on the board in 2010-11 with the intent of bringing some change. But the “legacy” board said to me, “If it’s not broke, why fix it?” I stepped down in 2011 and returned in 2015 [with a slate of reformers who took a majority of the nine owner seats of the sixteen-seat board (the remaining seven seats are sponsor-held)].

We really saw the need to bring the co-op up to its full potential and, quite frankly, into the 21st century. We have opened many lines of communication with the shareholders to gather their feedback. We hold very robust quarterly [public] meetings, whereby we actually can address shareholders’ questions and speak to projects. We’re making great strides to get people to understand what we’re thinking of up front.

For example, our outdoor sprinkler system is completely shot and needs to be replaced. It’s just a mess. We would like to replace the lighting on the buildings, because currently we have these – I call them prison lights. Once we started looking at everything, we worked with an architect to create a master plan.

We have a huge economic mix within our co-op, too. We have retirees on fixed incomes, and then we have highly paid professionals making six-plus figures. It’s a balancing act. Not only when you float an idea and start talking about cost, but then, “How is this going to impact me as a fixed-income person? How much is my maintenance going up?” Things like that.

As president, I have to be able to listen and mediate. I try to listen to all sides of the story and mediate conflict where necessary and bring everybody to a consensus. I see my role as playing referee: keeping conversations focused; keeping projects on track; and recognizing people’s talents. That’s where I see myself most.

Take  5   Five ways that Frank Aprilano relaxes:

  1. Reads a book: For the Love of Money, about a hedge fund manager who didn’t do well in school but stumbled into that profession and made a pile of money.
  2. Learns a new language: “I studied Spanish for many years, but I’d just like to learn a new language. It’s fun.”
  3. Sees a film: Moonstruck, a favorite because it is New York-based, and about relationships.
  4. Plans for the future: “You always have to have something to look forward to. It gets you through the day.”
  5. Helps the community:   “I would volunteer – anywhere from soup kitchens to homeless shelters.”

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