Contest aims to save egregious lobbies

Cathy Hobbs, a judge

Cracked floors, bad lighting, out-of-date decor — there are myriad aesthetic pitfalls that afflict New York City lobbies. But with $25,000 and a little bit of elbow grease, interior design firm BC Exchange, which does lobby and corridor renovations on a regular basis, says it will transform one co-op or condo’s lobby into a work of art for its “Ugly Lobby” contest.

Judges, who include television real estate reporter Cathy Hobbs and Brown Harris Stevens broker Wendy Maitland, have the tall task of determining which entry is most in need of a revamp. Nominations submitted to must be from real estate agents or people who live or work in the building in question. The deadline is September 15.

Hobbs, a noted interior designer and host of WPIX-TV’s “Metro Residential” weekly program, will personally present the winner with options for the lobby renovation. If the cost of the lobby upgrade exceeds $25,000, then the prize will be used as a credit toward the upgrade. Contestants are responsible for ensuring that their condo and co-op boards are OK with the project.

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“The goal at the end of the day is for them to have a completed lobby,” Hobbs told The Real Deal. “The lobby is the equivalent of curb appeal to a free-standing home. Having a public lobby reflective of your private space brings value to your owners.”

The person who wins the renovation for his or her lobby will also receive a room redesign.

While Hobbs noted that any “lobby in need” would be a contender for the prize, she did point out a few particularly egregious lobby aesthetic violations she’ll be looking out for.

“Ill-repair, crowded furniture,” Hobbs said, “a lobby that, in essence, just doesn’t work.”

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