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CHICAGO.COOPERATORNEWS.COM  COOPERATORNEWS CHICAGOLAND  —  SPRING 2022    13  Professional Property Management  for Chicago’s Finest High Rise  Condominium Associations  Community Specialists  205 North Michigan Avenue / Suite 2930  Chicago, Illinois 60611  312.337.8691 /  Time for a new   Time for a new   CBU?  CBU?  Mailbox Installations and Repairs   Mailbox Installations and Repairs   Mailbox Fast LLC  Mailbox Fast LLC  Wheaton, IL  Wheaton, IL  630-215-7343  630-215-7343  Before  Before  Make Your Life Easier with   Make Your Life Easier with   Gia, which provides interior design and reno-  vation services to associations throughout   New England, says that a problem with this  is  all  about  organization,  says  Mullendore.   structure is that the ultimate decision-makers  Everything has to be properly sequenced to   should be few, and should be part of the en-  tire process. “From the beginning of a project  munity and to account for “stuff that’s more   like this, you have to decide who the decision  technical”—like shutting down the sprinkler   makers are, and you want those people on  system, for example. During a hallway reno-  board from the first meeting,” she says. When  vation project he worked on, he says, “One   we discuss how frequently boards turn over,  week,  you have  demolition on  two  floors,   not to mention the mercurial makeup of mul-  tifamily communities as owners/shareholders  demolition moves down two floors—in other   come and go, she emphasizes the importance  words, a highly organized game of logistics.”   of  getting information up  front and setting  Meanwhile, you are “working with a board of   priorities and decisions from the beginning to  directors; you then have to balance that with   mitigate the inherent attrition.   “You would start by having a fact-finding  building engineer—and do all this work while   meeting,” she says, “to find out what the bud-  get is for the project, what the needs are, how  limited hours; you have to put up site protec-  much has already been started—has anything  tion; you’ve got to work around the residents   already been purchased or approved? It’s im-  portant to ask all the right questions. And you  have to deal with the occasional complaints   make sure that what you’re designing meets  that a neighbor may have—‘Your painting   those needs and encompasses all of the deci-  sions that have already been made.”   In terms of who should be on the commit-  tee, Milazzo Smith says it’s ideal to have a wide  decisions are made in the beginning of the   range of stakeholders with a wide range of in-  terests—“not just people that are interested in  approved the design, but it might take a year   decor,” she says, “but a wider representation of  or two to implement it. If it’s already been ap-  the needs of the community.”   She continues, “The more people that are  that design—what you’re building—and that’s   involved in the decision, the harder it is to get  the key. Now, there might be things that come   the decision made. However, everyone wants  up that you have to address, but you still will   to feel like they’re being heard. … You might  be making decisions consistent with the over-  send out a questionnaire, or have a broader  all design that was created when you started.”  meeting to make sure the board or the deco-  rating committee hears everyone’s needs and  tant in this regard, because they are not only   concerns.  People  can  be  passionate  about  taking  into  account what  looks  good  now,   design decisions, whether they know what  but what will endure, both aesthetically and   they’re doing or not. And a space like \[a lobby  physically. “Part of the design process is try-  or a hallway\], where people walk through ev-  ery day—it’s an extension of their home, so  “like selecting things that look really good   they’re personally invested in those decisions.”  that don’t have to cost a million dollars—and   Often, says Eric Mullendore, owner of Eric  that takes a certain amount of knowledge of   Mullendore Architecture & Interior Design  product.”  based  in Chicago,  this becomes the  biggest   challenge for the designer or architect. “I think  mise—and  patience.  In  the  hallway  project,   the difficult thing in terms of design is, in this  says  Mullendore, “there  was  no shortage  of   day  and  age,  the internet makes everybody  opinions from unit owners about what was   an expert,” he laments. “Everybody looks on  good, and what wasn’t. And so sometimes   Pinterest, everybody reads design magazines.  you just have to sit back and let all those opin-  And that can be a landmine of conflicting  ions get expressed. And then, hopefully, you   interests. Somebody can see a photograph  \[as the designer\] thoughtfully make the right   and think, ‘Oh, that’s really neat.’ Well, it’s the  decision.”   wrong size, or it gives off the wrong light \[for   the space in question\]. So from a design per-  spective, you work with your committee, and  advice,” adds Milazzo Smith. “And that advice   you decide which battles are worth fighting,  is sometimes hard to give; based on my ex-  and which battles are not worth fighting.”  Seeing It Through  The professionals agree that as long as all  set the expectations properly, then every proj-  the upfront work has been done correctly—  the right team, the permitting, the engineer-  ing and technical considerations, the budget-  ing and financing, the communication with   residents—the actual design and construction   components of a project are really the easiest   parts. However long a capital design project   takes—and it can take years from conception   to sign-off—the bulk of that duration is in that   behind-the-scenes work.   Getting through the construction phase   minimize disruption to the building or com-  then the next week, you start painting, and   working with the property manager and the   people live here. You have to do work between   who still need to come and go. And then you   smells,’ or something like that. And the big-  gest worry is safety.”  “That’s why I think it’s important that the   process,” says Milazzo Smith. “You might have   proved, then there’s great documentation of   The professional designer’s eye is impor-  ing to establish good value,” says Mullendore,   It also takes a certain amount of compro-  “I think the most important part of any   project is that you listen, and that you give   perience with condo associations, giving that   tough advice upfront is really helpful. If you’ve   ect is successful, because it’s right for the cli-  ent.”   n  Darcey Gerstein is Associate Editor and a   Staff Writer for CooperatorNews.

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