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Laundry renovations go 'high-tech.' (Renovation & Rehabilitation Supplement)

Laundry renovations go |high-tech'

One of New York's least favored traditions -- gathering up quarters for a trip to laundry -- may have come to an end.

With the introduction of a sophisticated computerized credit card system at a luxury Eastside co-op, the cashless society has entered the laundry room, in what is heralded as perhaps the greatest advance since the spin-dry washer.

The system, developed by Miele, the European industry leader, was installed this spring by Gordon & Thomas Companies, an innovator in commercial laundry equipment, at Murray Hills Mews. It is the first of its kind in Manhattan. And while providing convenience to residents of the high rise building, it may have also signaled the end of coin-operated machines in the city's residential buildings.

The G&T credit program works like a bank's ATM system. At Murray Hill Mews, residents are issued cards that provide access to laundry facilities and machines, with usage recorded and billed as a line item in their regular monthly statement.

"The Murray Hills Mews installation is a prototype for Manhattan," pointed out G&T president Thomas Litwin, "and judging from the reaction to-date, coin operated systems are on the way to antiquity."

From the building management point of view, the laundry credit card system has enormous advantages. As all machines are directly linked to computers at G&T, laundry activity can be monitored allowing G & T to limit equipment down-time increasing customer satisfaction. Laundry room traffic can be controlled by offering discounts during off peak hours. Price increases can be programmed for any increment instead of being tied to denominations of coins. And, there is total accountability. Without cash. the problems associated with cash transactions are eliminated.

"This is an incredible convenience for residents," noted Robert J. Halabov, senior property manager for Dwelling Managers Inc. who is responsible for Murray Hill Mews. He adds that the building, which is home to 264 families, many with children. contains an unusually active laundry room. "Many of our residents are professional families who must deal with laundry chores after the business day, or through their household staff. For them, the advantages of not having to collect quarters is obvious."

G & T/Miele system, G & T computer specialists worked closely with Dwelling Management to provide a smooth transition to the management billing system for Murray Hill Mews. "We are even projecting some significant profits for the co-op board as a result of this system," said Halabov.

Gordon & Thomas, which maintains some 40,000 laundry machines in over 4,000 locations throughout the mid-Atlantic region, also made industry history with the introduction of the first debit card laundry system on a college campus. In the summer of 1989, the firm installed the debit system at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Today, 138 machines at the sprawling campus are operated by debit card.
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Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jul 24, 1991
Previous Article:Tax savings via ICIP overlooked for renovation.
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