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Habitat Magazine Insider Guide




The Holidays Are Coming. Is Your Package Room Ready?

New York City

Package deliveries, doormen, tracking systems, co-op and condo boards, COVID.
Dec. 6, 2021

A shareholder in a doorman co-op building reports that the deluge of package deliveries has resulted in chaos. When the doorman has to retrieve a package from the overloaded storage area, he leaves the front door unattended, a potential security risk. With the holidays looming, the bad situation promises to get worse. Is there anything the co-op board can — and should — do?

The onslaught of package deliveries was bad before the pandemic, but it’s been exacerbated in the past year as people started ordering everything online, from dish soap to dresses, replies the Ask Real Estate column in The New York Times. Add to the mix typical holiday shopping and extraordinary shipping delays, and you have a recipe for a very confused and cluttered package room — and potential breaches of building security.

“Package deliveries have not been just a seasonal issue — they’ve been a 52-week issue,” says Dan Wurtzel, the president of FirstService Residential New York, a property management company. “There are significant challenges around where to store stuff and how to manage the volume of packages.”

Based on the description from the shareholder in the doorman co-op building, it sounds like the building is struggling with three separate problems: staffing shortages, a lack of appropriate space, and an ineffective delivery system. All three issues could be managed better.

The shareholder's first step should be to contact the managing agent and the board, laying out concerns. Use specific examples, if you can, and be clear that you are looking for a solution to an ongoing issue.

The doorman is being asked to be in two places at once, an impossible task, and one that creates a safety hazard when the lobby is left unattended. The building needs to hire more people, or ask existing staff members to provide backup at busy hours. The package room might need an overhaul. It might be too small or poorly organized. The board should establish rules for residents who do not pick up their packages in a timely manner. It could move unclaimed boxes to a secondary storage area, and require residents to schedule a pickup time. Or management could get permission to drop off packages inside individual apartments. If a new policy is put in place, management should communicate this clearly to residents.

The building should also re-evaluate how it logs packages as they are delivered and disseminated so they do not end up in the wrong hands. Many buildings are moving to electronic tracking systems, which this building might want to consider. “Having a computerized front desk program where you can scan packages is really important now,” Wurtzel says. “A manual log is susceptible to human error.”

As reported in Habitat, the latest entry in the technology boom devoted to smooth package deliveries is a system called Smart Package Room, which uses computers, lasers and blinking lights to speed the process. Co-op and condo boards might need to look into it or other high-tech solutions. As Wurtzel says, this problem won't disappear after the holidays are over. 

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