UT Reader Asks: Should I Endorse a Mural Being Painted on My Condo Building?

by UrbanTurf Staff

image
Mural on LeDroit Park house by Garin Baker.

In this installment of UrbanTurf Reader Asks, a LeDroit Park condo owner raises concerns about a mural being installed on the side of his building.

I own a one-bedroom in LeDroit Park and there is interest among other owners in the condominium to hire an artist to paint a mural on the side of the building.

I have concerns that a painting on the building will lead to increased costs and risk the overall value of the building and its units. It is very unlikely that every owner will agree on a design but even more unlikely that prospective buyers will appreciate and/or like the specific art.

In addition, it is unclear if the painting will require significant upkeep and repair. For example, what if it is damaged in a storm and it is difficult to locate the original artist? Is that a legitimate concern? 

All this said, the building and neighborhood attract younger people who may be more open to the concept. And, if the design is well done, it could make the building more aesthetically pleasing and actually increase value. 

I am curious to know what other UrbanTurf readers think. Am I being unreasonable or are my concerns justified?

Readers, what do you think? Post your thoughts in the comments section. If you would like to submit a question for UrbanTurf Reader Asks, send an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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* UT Reader Asks: Should I Sell My Condo in DC?
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This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/ut_reader_asks_should_i_endorse_a_mural_being_painted_on_my_condo_building/7421

11 Comments

  1. lauren said at 12:40 pm on Tuesday August 6, 2013:

    I don’t think potential buyers will be deterred by a tasteful mural, but there are some other interesting and complex issues raised here.

    It is highly unlikely that all the owners agree upon a single concept for the mural which means there will be at least a few owners who don’t like it. Should that be enough to stop it from moving forward?

    The maintenance is another issue, as is the cost of the mural itself. (From what I have heard, murals need to be freshened up about every three years.) If the cost of the mural itself digs into the building’s reserve funds, I don’t see how any wise person could think it was a good idea.

    Reader, let us know what happens!

  1. mona said at 1:11 pm on Tuesday August 6, 2013:

    The idea of the mural is great and could be very nice if done well. My biggest question is why? Why incur the cost and upkeep. HOA’s have enough issue as is and even more if it is a very small building. Where is the initial funding for this coming from? Out of the reserve funds? You have to assume that you have more then the minimum reserves if it is coming out of there. Are other upkeep items in the building being postponed in order to do the mural? If the building is in perfect shape and needs no up keep and there is money for snow removal and all the other things and you have way more then needed in reserve then go for it. If you have other things that need to be done like roof, landscaping, painting, point work that need attention then I would hold off on this until the really important things are done. Determine the wants over the needs

  1. Zcf said at 1:27 pm on Tuesday August 6, 2013:

    I too live in a small condo unit. I would probably vote against something like this. (It’s a luxury with dubious aesthetic appeal or value)

    I would rather spend excess money on landscaping. It would probably be cheaper.

    Or if my condo has so much money it wants to spend it on stuff like this, I would raise holy hell and ask for lower condo fees.

  1. SW, DC said at 2:14 pm on Tuesday August 6, 2013:

    Go for it! Murals are sick and DC is generally drab and cookie cutter. Help liven it up a little. In ATL you find murals like this everywhere. Entire neighborhoods. Peace

  1. Zesty said at 2:51 pm on Tuesday August 6, 2013:

    I think the reader lives in Ledroit Place Condos; this is the only condo building in Ledroit Park that has an exposed side for a mural (that I can think of). For that building, I would actually think a Mural would add value because that building is quite dull. But this is assuming that the cost and final product makes sense.

  1. Klaatu's Son said at 3:21 pm on Tuesday August 6, 2013:

    Have the artist paint a trompe l’oeil so that the dull side of the building will have the optical illusion of a complete building in three dimensions.

  1. Justin S said at 3:26 pm on Tuesday August 6, 2013:

    As someone that’s done some mural work myself,
    I would avoid looking at it from a business perspective.

    Murals can certainly raise the appeal of a neighborhood, but even if the net impact on nearby land values is higher than the cost, the local impact on your building’s value alone probably won’t be in the black. (unless you’re a business)

    If you’re excited about living next to a mural, proud to be a sponsor of the arts, or want to feel like you’ve contributed to your community, then a mural might be a practical investment. If it happens to have some of its costs offset when you go to sell, that should be an added perk.

    also, they do need to be touched up every so often, but anyone should be able to do that. You won’t need the exact artist.

  1. Dno said at 6:42 pm on Tuesday August 6, 2013:

    @SW,DC: Ha, ATL as urban inspiration? And DC is mural-less? Right…

  1. Just a thought. said at 8:29 am on Wednesday August 7, 2013:

    I would add to the good comments above, that once the mural exists, it will become part of the community.  Although your building will actually own it, people around may become very attached to it; the mural may even become symbolic of your area of the neighborhood.  That could be a very positive thing, however, it could also mean that any future attempt to remove, alter, or obscure the mural could create general ill-will.  Once it’s up, you have to assume it will always be there.  Just a thought.

  1. waw said at 2:42 pm on Tuesday August 13, 2013:

    I agree with mona.  Why? 
    My biggest fear is adding something that will increase maintenance costs/HOA dues.  Why should you take that on when it has no value to you or to future owners. 
    As Justin mentioned, this is more of a benefit to the community.  Why not ask the entire community to pay for and maintain it?  I’d love to see community dollars going to support local artists, but I wouldn’t be willing to go it alone.  Just don’t have it to spare it.
    Good luck

  1. aj said at 11:54 am on Wednesday August 14, 2013:

    I actually rented my first two apartments in DC and bought my condo in Adams Morgan because I loved the vibe - and the murals are a big part of that. While I can’t say the value is direct, I can say (purely subjectively) that it might sway people to purchasing in your neighborhood and therefore everyone benefits (when demand goes up, so too do prices). I think finding out the initial cost as well as maintenance is important. consider having a few (3-5) muralists submit a concept design the board can choose from. And work with a muralist who is open to input from the unit owners. I think you can reach agreement and I think you’ll value to contributon to your neighborhood as well as your building.

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