The Client Seat: Finis by Bruce | October 10, 2019 | Articles | 3 comments For those of you who may have read our series “The Client Seat,” we have the Very Last Chapter: Christians 1, Lions 0 Print Version| Share « Previous Article Next Article » Related Articles Summer Reading List "I Was Wrong" Adam Smith RIP (232 Years Ago) Supply Chains Aren't Just for Manufacturers "Everything Must Go!" (Your Office Edition) Email Delivery Get Our Latest Articles Delivered to your inbox + 3 Comments Midrange Guy on October 11, 2019 at 3:06 pm The building is more than 3.44 times the lot area, which means that a law firm or planning consultant, somewhere attached to the project, provided value in getting the bonuses for the additional floor area. Was it the church’s law firm? The developer’s law firm? Someone else? More generally, now that the project is mostly done, is the church committee satisfied that Firm C treated its members as valued clients? Or does Firm C have room to improve? Midrange Guy on October 15, 2019 at 3:23 pm Bruce, a larger question occurred to me. If you could imagine the committee going back to 2015 to interview law firms with the experience of having gone through this process once, what (if anything) do you think the committee would do differently to choose a law firm for this project? Bruce on October 15, 2019 at 4:26 pm Midrange Guy: First of all, thanks as always. Yes, the developer did secure additional FAR above and beyond his “as of right” allotment; it was his law firm (not sure who that was) that did this. The Church shares pari passu under the terms of the 99-year ground lease in the additional square footage. BTW, St. Michael’s share is a flat $$ amount/sq. ft. built and is not a function of how much actual rental income the developer/owner collects; the economic risk is solely his and not ours. Your 2nd question is of course more profound. Let me suggest a process we just completed in selecting an architect for a Major Renovation of the St. M’s “Campus” (The Church proper, which is basically glorious save for some fine-tuning in the audio/lighting and circulation/access categories; the Parish House, which is the primary 7 days/week “working” building, and the Rectory which is, well, you know). In that process, we begin by soliciting friends, neighbors, contacts, the Diocese of New York, and the “grapevine” in general to produce a list of architects who had at least some familiarity with nonprofits–churches, universities, community centers, libraries, etc. Based again on word of mouth, we whittled the list to five firms, and sent an RFP to each of them. Their written responses to the RFP enabled us to narrow the list from five to three. The final step was to invite each of the three finalists in to St. Michael’s to spend as much as two hours with the selection committee; we ran that back to back from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. After the third firm left the conference room, our choice was self-evident and the vote for the winner was unanimous with little discussion. What were the key criteria? First, they had to have shown they’d done their homework about St. Michael’s. Credentials presentations are inherently self-referential and fundamentally beside the point; none of them would have been in that room without “credentials.” Second, we simply evaluated what they spent their 90+ minutes on. Firm A dropped a large binder with >80 glossy color photos of their work for other religious institutions (primarily synagogues, which was not relevant to our decision per se–synagogue, mosque, cathedral, whatever) but 90+% of their work was in the worship spaces proper and not the “working/business” building. Utterly different use cases, and we felt they were resting on their massive volume of work. They also admitted when probed that their office was extremely busy and they couldn’t promise when they’d get to us. Firm B’s principal came in completely by himself, with no PowerPoint, no handouts, not even a 3×5 card in his jacket pocket as far as I could tell, and was very low-energy. Firm C brought the principal, two key assistants, a structural engineer and a mechanical engineer, and went through a 20-slide PowerPoint consisting almost entirely of various floor plans and “sections” of St. Michael’s with red rectangles indicating areas that needed attention–for example, the notoriously ugly and crowded doorway and corridor joining the Parish House and the Church. They talked through some of their thinking. Three guesses who we hired?