Tom Soter in Building Operations on December 8, 2016
The demand for convenience, fed by online shopping, is producing a flood of deliveries that often overwhelm designated package rooms. Kristen Brunello, community manager at a 143-unit rental building in New Jersey, says the property was swamped. “Packages were being left in the lobby, in the hallways, in the manager’s office,” Brunello says. Convenience wasn’t the only concern; security against theft was another. So in August, the owners of the property contracted with a company called Parcel Pending to install a system of Automated Package Lockers (APL). “The lockers have allowed us to keep everything in one space and safe,” Brunello says.
“This is becoming a really significant amenity that properties are wanting to offer,” says Arik Levy, the CEO of Luxer One, an APL supplier. “It adds a lot of value to their property. If you live in a high-rise, access to packages is the number one problem that some people have.”
Brunello says setting up the system was relatively simple. It includes a set of different-sized metal lockers that are controlled by a touch screen and a computer system that connects with the internet. “You can decide on how many units you want,” notes Brunello. “They don’t take a lot of space, width-wise or depth-wise.”
The next – and most challenging – step is educating the carriers. “It’s definitely a process,” says Brunello. Instead of leaving packages in the lobby or with the front desk, the carrier types a unit-number or person’s name on a keypad. After the package is placed in the locker, the resident receives an email or text notification.
Once the resident gets a notice, he or she then goes to the lockers, types in a personal access code on the keypad, and the door of the locker pops open. If the parcel is not retrieved after a few days, the system administrator is notified. Some APL set-ups include video surveillance as well.
A co-op or condo board can buy the lockers, starting at $6,900 and going as high as $20,000, or it can lease them to the residents, who pay the APL company fees ranging from $20 to $150 a year per person.
Smaller buildings with limited common-area space may find the system challenging. “We've put them in some small buildings, but typically, it's more for a building that's 80 units or more,” says Lori Torres, CEO of Parcel Pending.
Access may be an issue since the majority of buildings in New York have old-fashioned buzzers, meaning co-ops and condos will have to supply keys to the carriers. The biggest drawback, however, is that most of the APL companies are based out of state and so far have made limited forays into New York – and then only in rental properties. But if the response from Brunello’s building is any indication, co-ops and condos could soon be getting on board.
“The tenants love it,” she says. “They really have a high usage rate, and, more and more people are loving it.”
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