Tom Soter in Bricks & Bucks on December 16, 2015
"I thought it was a fantastic idea," says Stark, president of the 5,860-unit Rochdale Village, a Queens cooperative. "It was definitely something that was wanted. There was a great outpouring of people who wanted to sign up for it."
Oddly enough, this was the second time Bargold came calling. In 1998, the company had made a pitch that went nowhere to the board of the complex, which consists of 20 residential buildings, with 293 units per building. Stark, not a board member at the time, is puzzled about
the rejection. "I don't know why we didn't go for it then," she says.
This time around, however, the pitch was accepted. Many owners were paying for off-site storage rooms and wanted the convenience of on-site bins. Assistant manager Alex Freedman, of Marion Scott Real Estate, had worked with Bargold at a property his firm managed in Brooklyn, and suggested to the board that it might want to take another look at the storage specialist.
Recalls Josh Goldman, the president of Bargold: "From the very beginning of 2012 is when things started picking up in terms of interest. It's when we actually started seeing what we could do about providing storage for each of the 20 separate buildings at Rochdale." After discussing doing it in-house, the board awarded the job to Bargold.
Although most residents were enthusiastic about the idea, there were some dissenters who complained about paying for storage and also bemoaned the potential loss of a small room currently used for free storage. "We have a room in each building where people are allowed to keep seasonal storage," observes Freedman. "That's free. There were some concerns, originally, that we would take away those free rooms. Once we reassured the entire community that that was not going to happen, people got on board."
With that settled, the planning began in earnest. Goldman discussed the logistics of the work with manager Freedman laying out the different aspects of the installation "in terms of preparing the rooms, and which rooms they would be, and the fact that they wanted a video camera in each room," Goldman notes. Rochdale had just completed a major upgrade in its security several years earlier, installing a key fob system, "so we wanted to connect the fob systems on all the doors." As for size, the units started at 24 square feet.
Goldman says it was a big job, but not the firm's biggest - the company had installed 1,000 storage units in Co-op City in the Bronx, and "one in Queens that had over 500. We have a bunch of communities in the 300s to 400s, but 500 storage units was large for us." The job began in 2013 and was essentially finished in 2014 (there was one room that needed extra work and was finished in June 2015).
The one hitch was that the co-op didn't have enough unused space to build storage units for everyone. Doled out first-come, first-served, there were only 500 installations - less than 10 percent of the Rochdale population. Consequently, there is currently a waiting list in case more space becomes available. Surprisingly, one name on that list is Lisa Stark. Yes, that Lisa Stark, the Rochdale board president who had heard the original proposal and thought the units were such a "fantastic idea."
"I didn't get a storage space because at the time when they were going to offer mine, I just wasn't available," she says, a tad sheepishly. "So, I'm on the waiting list."
You can cut the irony with a knife.
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