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Mining for Gold, Part 2

The Upper East Side cond-op was big – 1,258 units – and it had a big problem: its storage room was packed to the brim with bicycles. In order to get one out, an owner had to climb over bike after bike. It was a nightmare.

Have an extra room in your basement that is piling with bikes and boxes and things that go crash in the night? Join the club. Space in the city is a hot – and scarce – commodity. Tenants and boards increasingly have been searching for ways to solve their storage problems (see “Mining for Gold,” Habitat, May 2005). That’s why Long Island City-based A&D Steel Equipment has seen a steady increase in business over the last decade. Established in 1928, the family-run company has been installing steel lockers for over 20 years.

“Space is tight and boards want to have a steady income,” observes A&D’s vice president of sales, Alan Edelstein. “Storage lockers solve these two problems. By renting them out to tenants, buildings can pay off the installation costs within a year-and-a-half and begin to collect revenue.”

A&D’s products also include shelving and bike racks. That’s why the firm could offer a way out for the cond-op with the bike problem. “In the end, we presented the board with a solution to maximize the space and allow the tenants to store and retrieve their bikes efficiently,” recalls Edelstein. “The board accepted our plan and we are currently in the process of installing 535 vertical wall-hung bike racks.”

Last year, Tudor City Place, an 800-unit co-op in midtown Manhattan, decided to utilize two rooms in the basement. “We had a lot of wasted space, two rooms filled with garbage,” explains Burt Hernandez, Tudor City’s superintendent for three years, “and the board was always looking for ways to generate more income.”

A&D presented Tudor City with a choice of two basic types of storage: solid-steel or wire-mesh lockers and bins. Solid-steel lockers would be fully enclosed, with a baked-on enamel finish that requires no maintenance, secured by a three-point locking system. Each starts at $1,000 and up. A more economical choice was the wire-mesh locker, which starts at $400 and up, and ends up costing roughly 30 to 35 percent less than the solid-steel version. The Tudor City board ultimately hired A&D to install 140 mesh-wire lockers.

“We picked wire-mesh not just for economical reasons but for aesthetic ones, too,” says Hernandez. “Also, we wanted to be able to see what tenants were storing and to make sure no flammables were being stored.”

The results? One fully rented storage room, which contains 84 storage lockers, currently generates $60,000 each year in revenue for the building. The other room, partially rented, brings in $36,000. “The decision to install the lockers was a great solution for the building and the tenants. The shareholders and tenants love it,” says Hernandez. “Having storage on site is a great amenity.”

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