By Dan Orlando
The “Blizzard of 2015” ended up sparing New York City, as the majority of the area sustained little more than a few inches of snow.
Though the city may have gotten off easy this time, having a thorough and organized plan in place is a must for any property manager who is preparing for a temporary shutdown or an onslaught of unfriendly weather conditions.
“Local Law 26 is a mandate from the city. (Property managers) have to have something that’s called an emergency action plan,” John Brandstetter, managing director at The Brandstetter Group and chairman of the Weather Committee of BOMA/NY told Real Estate Weekly.
“They really need a very specific nuts and bolts plans,” he continued. “Your first course of action is you’ve got to go to your employees.”
Brandstetter said that the recent Super Storm Sandy was a perfect example of a situation that brought out the best in many of the city’s property management teams.
“Bloomberg had an evacuation order for all of lower Manhattan,” he said. “Everybody had to get out. “
Mayor Bloomberg opted to not send officials door-to-door and verify that everyone had evacuated. As a result, essential personnel such as chief engineers and building managers were not forcibly removed. In most cases – and possibly all– they continued to man their posts.
“These building people, they’re vey loyal. They really take great pride in their buildings,” said Brandstetter. “They’re dedication to preserving (their) building is unbelievably high.”
“I don’t think it’s something that people know a lot about, just what high dedication that building managers have to their buildings.”
Jordan Barowitz, director of external affairs at Durst, agrees with Brandstetter’s praise on quality team members.
“A lot of our preparation is maintaining critical staffing,” Barowitz told Real Estate Weekly, adding that a priority for Durst on the eve of a storm is arranging accommodations for essential personal so that they can stay close to their buildings.
Buildings that house medical tenants need to be extra prepared for unfavorable conditions.
Novus Equities, LLC own and operate 40-50 Union Avenue. The property is a recently refurbished medical office campus that spans 72,000 s/f in Irvington, New Jersey.
A representative from Novus told Real Estate Weekly that “it is imperative that office building owners with a high concentration of medical tenants prepare well in advance and act quickly post-storm. These actions allow medical providers to treat patients with common seasonal ailments as well as storm-related conditions while creating safe access for staff, patients and visitors.”
Brandstetter said that many of the buildings that he oversees or works with, provide in-house accommodations for staffers, especially in the wake of Sandy.
After the storm passes, teams need to be prepared to get the building open and running as soon as possible. Brandstetter advises that managers keep up-to-date on what typical maintenance and repair rates are so that they are better prepared to find a fair price in crunch time.
“You’re hiring a lot of vendors” he said, mentioning disaster recovery professionals and providers of temporary power generation.
“You have to know the costs for all of this. In a natural disaster there are people who charge a lot more money than is normal,” he continued.
Brandstetter added that he stresses the importance of having a sound shutdown strategy to property managers and owners year-round.
“I try to do that constantly,” he said. “It’s critically important.”