The Pandemic and Package Overflow


“It’s like Christmas on steroids.”

That’s how the doorman of 1 Upper East Side co-op just lately described the tidal wave of cartons and bins spilling out of UPS and FedEx vans and into his constructing since New Yorkers started sheltering in place in mid-March and started ordering life’s requirements (and, maybe, a couple of nonessential objects) on-line.

A rental high-rise at 525 West 52nd Street, which has virtually 400 items, is receiving greater than 350 packages day by day, a 3rd greater than in pre-Covid-19 days, mentioned Andrew Schwartz, the vp of asset administration at Taconic Partners, the developer of the constructing. Meanwhile, Nada Rizk, an affiliate dealer at Brown Harris Stevens, mentioned that her 200-unit co-op on the Upper East Side is getting greater than 100 parcels a day, a soar of 30 %.

The variety of packages is manageable, if barely so, at most luxurious addresses within the metropolis as a result of many residents have decamped for second houses. “Our building is half full, and it’s still like holiday season in terms of deliveries,” mentioned Michael J. Franco, an affiliate dealer at Compass who’s on the board of his Upper West Side co-op. “If people weren’t gone we’d be snowed under.”

The brown field pileup from Amazon and elsewhere is hardly a brand new factor for the staffs of residential buildings in New York City. But due to the coronavirus, it’s not a easy matter of logging in parcels, then checking with the recipients to see in the event that they’d reasonably come decide up the package deal within the foyer or have it delivered to their entrance or again door.

How a lot particular consideration packages get — a wipe-down with disinfectant? a twig of Lysol? a dose of a ultraviolet mild? — and how these packages make their strategy to recipients relies upon partially on the variety of workers on-site. “There’s been upward of a 20 percent staff reduction in many buildings,” mentioned Melissa Cafiero, the director of compliance at Halstead Management Company. Some doormen and porters have taken a go away as a result of they’re frightened about contracting the virus or are tending to an ailing member of the family.

At least one constructing, Herald Towers, a 26-story rental on West 34th Street has employed further employees to handle the package deal room. Small packages are slipped to recipients by way of a plexiglass window. A staffer carries bigger parcels out of the package deal room and units them on the ground. Residents can’t retrieve them till the package deal room attendant is again behind the door.

Fewer employees members might imply that extra residents, accustomed to packages being delivered to their door, must retrieve them within the foyer or the package deal room. “Before, packages would be delivered all day. Now it’s twice a day,” Mr. Franco mentioned. “Before, you could say you wanted the packages at your front door or back door. Now they’re left only at the back door.”

The constructing’s format additionally determines the extent of intervention. CitySpire, a condominium on West 56th Street, has enough exterior house to allow the constructing employees to spray packages exterior and hold them exterior for an hour earlier than bringing them indoors and distributing them to residents, mentioned John R. Janangelo, the manager managing director of Douglas Elliman Property Management, whose portfolio consists of CitySpire.

Larry McCool, the resident supervisor of a 260-unit co-op in Midtown East, is planning to construct a small enclosure in the back of the foyer the place he can deal with packages with the UV light-emitting wand he has on order.

Until the system arrives, his employees is spraying parcels with disinfectant, then storing them within the package deal closet or simply exterior the closet for 24 hours earlier than distributing them. “But if someone wants the package right away we’ll bring it up right away,” Mr. McCool mentioned. This is a shift from the way in which the constructing sometimes operates. “Before all this happened,” he mentioned referring to the coronavirus, “residents would come downstairs to get their packages. But now, understandably, a lot of people don’t want to be in the lobby.”

For the foreseeable future many buildings are prohibiting the supply of mattresses, massive items of furnishings “or anything in a large box that would require the help of a third party service or the building staff,” mentioned Ms. Cafiero, of the Halstead Management Company. “We don’t want to put doormen and porters in close proximity to each other or to the residents.”

Complicating issues for some buildings is that some absentee residents are busily procuring on-line however aren’t round to assert their new possessions once they’re delivered. “It’s becoming a problem because they’re filling the package room,” mentioned Mr. Janangelo of Douglas Elliman. “We sent an email to residents telling them ‘if you’re not going to be here you might want to have your orders sent someplace else.’ ”

Deliveries from eating places have additionally been rethought. Few buildings are permitting couriers into buildings and elevators to do the handoff to their clients. At Mr. Franco’s co-op on the Upper West Side, the doorman meets the deliveryman exterior the constructing, brings within the meal, locations it on a steel shelving unit that’s been arrange within the foyer, then calls the resident to come back and get it.

“Shareholders have been told to do the whole transaction including tip in advance,” Mr. Franco mentioned. At CitySpire, baggage from eating places are positioned on a baggage cart within the foyer. Residents can decide up the meal themselves or have the doorman deliver it upstairs.

Of course due to all of the challenges posed by the pandemic, buildings should set priorities. “We wouldn’t want to give residents the false security that every package has been wiped down,” mentioned Robbie Janowitz, the senior vp at Orsid New York, a property administration firm. “If buildings have the employees and the provides, they’ll do it however we don’t have an ordinary protocol.

“We do have a protocol for cleansing and sanitizing the frequent areas,” Mr. Janowitz continued. “And that’s our main focus.”

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