Marianne Schaefer in Bricks & Bucks on September 23, 2020
In this densely packed city, where space is treasured and just about everybody seems to own too much stuff, co-op and condo boards are finding that secure storage space tops many residents’ list of preferred amenities. That was the case at 205 W. 57th St., a landmarked, 81-unit building erected in 1885. And the co-op board responded.
“We went through a major sweep of the building to find and free up any space we can,” says Kole Palushaj of Brown Harris Stevens, the resident manager. “There are a lot of corridors, chambers and catacombs in the basement, and these spaces were basically unused. We decided to clean them up and light them up.”
Board and management then decided that the most desirable use for that freed-up space would be to install storage units. So the board contracted with Giant Industrial Installations to install WireCrafters units.
“So far we have built 24 storage units, and next year we will install another 50,” Palushaj says. “These first 24 storage spaces were rented within a month on a first-come, first-served basis. Most people put stuff in there they don’t need every day, but one resident put wine chillers in it and made a wine cellar!”
The monthly rent for each storage unit is based on its location and size. If it’s in the basement at the farthest end of a corridor, it costs approximately $150 a month. Storage units on the lobby level, which are larger and easier to access, cost $200 a month. “For us, the rate of return on investment is within six to eight months for the lockers we have so far,” Palushaj says. “The goal is that once they are paid off, every resident will have a storage locker.”
Palushaj is of the opinion that almost every building has space that can be consolidated to create this amenity. “I know this from my colleagues within the industry,” he says. “I’m president of the Metropolitan Building Managers of New York, an organization that represents about 260 superintendants and resident managers.”
The cost of installing storage units differs with every project. “We give free quotes because every building will have a different price,” says Jerry Desir, a WireCrafters sales representative at Giant Industrial Installations, noting that materials, size and ease of access all come into play. “The price for one storage unit can be anywhere from the high $500s to $1,000. At the end of the day, it’s not a per-cage price, it’s a project price.”
Pricing includes freight, hardware and labor, and it’s volume based. It also depends on the material. Most common is see-through welded wire, but sheet-metal lockers are also available.“Many buildings install about 20 percent of solid storage units for privacy,” Desir says. “Those cost twice as much as the steel mesh units. Some people just want their belongings private.”
The return on investment for wire mesh units averages from 10 to 14 months, Desir says. “After that time, most buildings just put the money away and it’s a cash money-maker for buildings,” he says.
Another benefit of storage units is that they bring order to spaces than can get chaotic, and thus sharply reduce the danger of boards getting fined by the Fire Department of New York for harboring a fire hazard in the building. “That’s usually when they call us,” says Hugo Lau, a WireCrafters sales representative. “More and more buildings are creating the space for storage units, even if it’s in the garage. Some buildings even decided to get rid of their laundry room and put in storage lockers instead.”
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