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Owners invest to secure office buildings, tenants.

Buildings which have recently remodeled or that have suffered vandalism and petty thievery in the past are finding security measures are putting a halt to further damages.

Centralized messenger services and better security for entrances and public spaces are some of the amenities owners are using to keep tenants safe and happy and buildings in pristine condition.

To secure the lobby of a multi-tenanted building is difficult, explained Leonard Goldstein, a branch manager of AFA Protective Systems. This is because of the number of visitors and contractors.

"Rather than burglar and holdup alarms," he said, "you get into traffic control."

Several building managers report that internal messenger services have been found to reduce vandalism and petty theft by limiting the people entering the premises.

Michael Fiorito, senior vice president of Early Bird Messenger Service, said messenger desks were created as a response to their client's needs to secure their buildings. "They would question the traffic into the building and wanted to know which messenger made the delivery," he said.

With a central messenger desk, all incoming and outgoing parcels are brought to the lobby or another receiving area. Then uniformed messengers, hand picked and assigned to the building by the courier company, are the only ones allowed to make pickups and deliveries throughout the building. While some offices use the regular Early Bird outside delivery services, not every firm in the building is required to do so.

At Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, building manager Alan Silverman of Tower Plaza Associates has had Early Bird staffing a central messenger service for the past 18 months. "It has helped me tremendously," he said.

Silverman said a survey found the building was averaging 300 messengers a day.

"That's 300 different people in my elevator going up and down," he noted. "[The centralized messenger service] improved my elevator service by cutting down on the number of trips, and cut down on vandalism."

Petty thefts have been virtually eliminated, Silverman added.

The building, Silverman said, worked out an agreement with Early Bird so while there is no cost to the tenants for the inside services. Those who use Early Bird for outside messenger deliveries have been able to take advantage of competitive pricing and computer tracking.

Dag Hammarskjold's messengers wear a jacket, shirt and tie and are very presentable, Silverman said, and make rounds to every mailroom to make internal pickups and deliveries. They also respond immediately to any tenant who needs faster service.

While packages are routed through the internal messengers, food deliveries are made directly to tenants. "Tenants want the security but they don't want to suffer any inconvenience," Silverman observed, noting that otherwise someone would have to come downstairs to pay for the food.

William G. Cohen, executive director of Newmark Real Estate Services, has also begun central messenger service using Contemporary Courier in 500 Fifth Avenue, which has many individual offices, as well as the upscale Carnegie Hall Tower in which most tenants have their own floors.

The Carnegie Hall Tower messengers wear the building's uniform while at 500 Fifth they are outfitted with a white shirt and tie as well as a photo identification badge. It makes the tenants feel secure, Cohen added.

Cohen said the internal systems have been put in place "as a response to world crises and terrorism and the fact that in certain buildings once a messenger gets inside they are out of sight."

Joanne Agoglia, controller of Gafisa-Manhattan Equities agreed that increased security has more to do with the era than the market.

"Things happen in the worst buildings and the best," she noted.

Goldstein said that after a while, "Your mind becomes numb to the goings on."

Jay D. Lisnow, executive vice president of Gafisa Manhattan Equities, said in most of their buildings, which are primarily in the 100,000 square foot range and are attended 24 hours a day, messengers are escorted up in the freight elevators and are not allowed in the passenger cars. Lisnow said the freight elevator operator waits while the delivery or pickup is made, and then escorts the messenger downstairs and ensures the person exits.

David A. Falk, senior director of Williams Real Estate, said they are planning to put a messenger center at 1700 Broadway. This 600,000-square-foot building was recently renovated.

"We want to make sure it stays nice," Falk said.

Until the messenger center is installed, he said, security is handling all internal deliveries between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. This discourages people from hiding in the building overnight, he explained.

A Sperry-Vision Corp. video system has also been installed, with, as Falk put it, "cameras in every nook and cranny" while monitors are in place both in the management office and at the concierge desk. The side-street entrance was recently expanded when a survey found most people were coming in that way from the nearby subway.

Goldstein said security begins with simple access control such as having the main door locked so people cannot just walk in.

"It can get more elaborate with card readers and other devices," he said.

Some buildings issue photo I.D.'s, Goldstein said, and the person must show the identification card to a television camera monitored by security personnel who ensure the photo matches the face before entry is permitted.

One building, just off Fifth Avenue in Midtown, which has had burglaries as well as murders, now requires night tenants and visitors to walk up to a video camera covering the entire lobby and say their name and destination. That is in addition to the door buzzer, the night guard and the sign-in and sign-out log. Everyone exiting must again report to the video camera. Another Midtown building has a motion detector robot, complete with video camera, circulating through the hallways.

Goldstein said one building, tenanted by jewelers, has installed a card system turnstile for tenants while visitors must be verified by the security desk.

Such a card key system for entrances as well as elevators has been installed at 1700 Broadway. The cards are needed to gain access to each floor, which is rented in that building by single companies. The key system can be date and time controlled so that tenants' employees can be individually limited in their access, Falk explained.

For instance, he said, the card key system allows for electronic lock out so only someone else with a card programmed for those hours can gain access to the floor during that time period.

"If you work on a Saturday, it gives you a greater sense of security," Falk added.

Another change that Silverman made at Dag Hammarskjold was to switch security companies. The former company's guards became too friendly with the tenants, he said, and did not always check their credentials. The danger here, he explained, is that an employee could be fired and then rely on the friendly relationship to come back into the building after hours. One security company he used for a short time had a high turnover rate. Now he said, the building has had the same guards for more than a year.

Mark J. Lerner, president of Epic Security -- who holds a Ph.D. in criminology -- said his main business is security guards although he provides consultation and other security services, including different kinds of access locks such as the key card.

"If you want to spend more it can read fingerprints," Lerner said, "and if you want to spend more it can read the retinas in your eyes."

These high-tech gadgets are primarily for industrial-military access, he explained.

"People like to talk about gadgets but that's only a small part of security," Lerner noted. "You can have all the gadgets you want but you need the security guards to monitor them."

Lerner said he often installs time-lapse video systems in elevators and other places in buildings. "You can record a whole week on one VHS tape," he said, "although some people change it every 24 hours."

One problem with tapes, he noted, is that the incident has already occurred. "You have it on tape, but it's too late and the person is gone," he said.

He agrees, however, that any security system is also dependent on a building's budget.

Security guards, he said, are used the most and while gadgets are popular, the amount that is spent on guards is much, much more. Lerner said Epic is also sensitive to the needs of different buildings.

"You have to match the guards to the building," Lerner explained. "In the city, the guard is like a doorman or a concierge."

However, he acknowledged, while some smaller buildings can give more personal service, "A big Manhattan office building with 50 floors can't afford to escort every visitor," he said.

Goldstein said bathrooms are one place where you have to be careful.

"It's easy to gain access if you want to," he said. "They are locked with combination locks but you can't put a closed circuit TV in there or a burglar alarm. So when you go in you have to look over your shoulder. What a way to live."
COPYRIGHT 1992 Hagedorn Publication
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Weiss, Lois
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Apr 29, 1992
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