RPT-Struggling U.S. cities hope small projects yield big results

Reprinted from Reuters

By Mary Wisniewski

Nov 9 (Reuters) – Struggling U.S. Rust Belt cities for years have tried to counter the loss of manufacturing jobs with big, expensive projects like casinos and stadiums.

For cities such as Gary, Indiana; Flint, Michigan; and Youngstown, Ohio, these projects brought hope and headlines. Some delivered new revenue, but others brought new costs and mixed results.

Gary’s underused Genesis Convention Center, for example, cost the city $3.6 million in repairs and operations in the past year alone.

Now, Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and civic leaders of some other blighted cities are going small with strategic, narrowly focused ideas such as selling vacant homes for $1, demolishing derelict buildings and neighborhood clean-up projects that produce immediate results.

To view the full article, please click here

 

Blighted Cities Prefer Razing to Rebuilding

Reprinted from New Your Times Online

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BALTIMORE — Shivihah Smith’s East Baltimore neighborhood, where he lives with his mother and grandmother, is disappearing. The block one over is gone. A dozen rowhouses on an adjacent block were removed one afternoon last year. And on the corner a few weeks ago, a pair of houses that were damaged by fire collapsed. The city bulldozed those and two others, leaving scavengers to pick through the debris for bits of metal and copper wire.

To see the full article, click here.

Efficiency of one-stop maintenance shopping

 

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You’re in New York and your portfolio of properties spans both U.S. coastlines. How can you possibly manage property maintenance and day porter services remotely? The answer is a national maintenance service provider. Follow these three guidelines and managing nationwide property maintenance will become easier.

First, take detailed stock of your property’s goals.

As Kenny Rogers’s said in The Gambler, “you need to know when to hold them and know when to fold them.” What do you intend for your property? Are you holding and collecting income, refurbishing, selling, or demolishing? The tactics you choose for maintenance will be directly related to what you want to achieve in the end. Investing in major equipment for the long haul or simply protecting the property with secure fencing and perimeter lighting are very different approaches. Are you renovating the exterior and using day porter services to make the property attractive to potential buyers and/or tenants? In the end, bluffing your way through can prove costly. Take a look at the hand you were dealt and in this case, count your chips while at the table.

Second, obtain a partner that has resources in all locales, but can manage from one location.  Do you need snow removal in Boise and window boarding in Miami? A national provider utilizes a network of skilled local contractors and can manage multiple providers, dramatically reducing the time you would spend finding qualified professional contractors, following up, and confirming the completion of your project. Furthermore, a national provider eliminates the need to track down insurance certificates, licenses and other documentation from local providers. Select a company that is familiar with your industry sector (mortgage, REITs, Receivership, etc.). Your service provider should know more than just plumbing. They should understand the financial and trend data that impacts your business daily.

 Lastly, simplify your communication and billing with just one, national resource. Insist on detailed reports and photographs before/after each assignment. There is time and cost saving advantages to having invoices in a single format with only one W-9 to concern yourself with. Accessible online reports, invoices and photos available in real time are one hallmark of a national operation. Review their portfolio of experience and make sure they have expertise in all aspects of maintenance, inspection and repair. National maintenance managers and customer service professionals should have a broad range of experiences in countless property situations and will more than likely have dealt with your concern countless times through their career.

What you may now have discovered is that a national provider offering commercial property maintenance, preservation and day porter services is the answer to managing multiple properties in remote geographic locations. Simplify your life by having a single go to source to provide services anywhere in the U.S. vs. searching for unfamiliar, untested, and often unreliable, resources in each individual locale. Don’t gamble with your distantly located properties, the risk is too high. For more information visit www.commercialpreservation.com or call (800) 445-0640.

A BROKER’S PERSPECTIVE ON MAINTAINING OCCUPIED AND VACANT PROPERTY

cleveland-skylineBrokers often find CAP’s network a valuable resource

Commercial Asset Preservation (CAP) recently sat down with longtime commercial real estate broker Michael Guggenheim, president of Guggenheim Commercial Real Estate (GRCE), a company founded in 1961 by Michael’s father, Armin Guggenheim.  The firm, located in Cleveland, Ohio, focuses on brokerage, property management, investment sales and valuations throughout the state. Michael shared his experience on issues that arise with properties in their portfolio.

GRCE manages property, but does not self-perform maintenance. “We often contract out maintenance services to various vendors,” comments Michael.  GRCE recognizes that maintenance contractors, like CAP, can work in partnership with property managers so that each brings its service specialty to the property without conflict. The specialized services of a maintenance contractor augment a broker and ultimately make them a more valuable business partner. Through the national service provided, CAP also has become a resource to brokers and property managers by finding brokerage and property management opportunities for its business partners. Maintenance companies, like CAP, are not licensed brokers or property managers.

“The challenges we face include vacant and partially occupied properties with security, vandalism and limited ‘client’ resources (cash) making it difficult to stay on top of property conditions.” Michael reports also that occupied, older facilities, with often outdated operating and mechanical systems present even more challenges. GRCE clients readying a property for sale often clean up the property twice year, typically spring and fall. We asked Michael about what prompts owners to action with maintaining and securing their properties. “GRCE upon possession often engages the city to determine what, if any, code and/ or health & safety violations exist. We try to be proactive so as to maintain the integrity and value of the building.” GRCE has had good experience with clients of vacant buildings preemptively winterizing properties, a must in the harsh Northeast Ohio winter climate. What problems do you face with your portfolio of properties? Send your questions to Marc Insul, president of Commercial Asset Preservation insulm@commercialpreservation.com.

Keep Vandals and Vermin out of Vacant Facilities

B_0913_Vandals1CAP’s Marc Insul contributes to this feature article in Buildings Magazine. Click to read full article.

Chances are you’re familiar with old, abandoned buildings – hopefully not because one is in your portfolio, but perhaps there’s one in your neighborhood. The roof is caving. It’s infested with rodents. Debris litters the lot. You probably wonder how the property came to be in its present state and why the owner isn’t keeping it in better shape. It’s at this point that onlookers may call the city and make a formal complaint.

When a property of yours becomes unoccupied, keep your eye on it or risk it becoming an eyesore or worse. Maintenance and preservation techniques prevent vandalism, physical deterioration, and citation from local authorities.

However, the troubling truth is that owners aren’t familiar with best practices for maintaining vacant properties. From whom to notify and which inspections to perform, owners feel as hopeless and abandoned as the building itself.

“Maintaining a vacant property can be an unpleasant full-time job,” says Marc Insul, president of Commercial Asset Preservation (CAP), a firm that maintains and oversees vacant properties. “But doing so is a necessary task any owner or lender of commercial property needs to consider if they want to preserve equity while preparing the property for its next use.”

Chicago seeks tougher rules on vacant buildings

Reprinted from Chicago Tribune Business

Proposed amendment requires properties to be secured immediately, cuts number of inspections before tickets or violations are issued

In the first 10 days of September, city of Chicago operators logct-ct-biz-vacant-housing-a-jpg-20130826ged 359 calls about problems at vacant buildings, ranging from reports of open or missing front or back doors to pried-off plywood panels to trespassers.

The city is trying to lessen that number by requiring the entities responsible for vacant buildings to more quickly register them, and if they don’t, speed up when the city can issue a fine and force them to secure a building.

When Trash Bags and Gardening Tools Can Help Fight Crime

NEXT CityReprinted from NEXT City

Next City is hosting a live blog of the 2013 Reclaiming Vacant Properties conference, now ongoing in Philadelphia.

With some 40,000 vacant lots, Philadelphia is no stranger to issues linked to urban land vacancy. But the city is also familiar with strategies that can not only improve individual lots, but also reduce crime and improve quality of life.

Today, 8,500 public and privately owned vacant parcels are cleaned, greened and maintained through the Philadelphia Land Care Program, a collaborative effort spearheaded by the city and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS). Since the program began in 1999, it has demonstrated that the cleaning-and-greening approach has an impact beyond stabilizing the neighborhood. It has also been shown to reduce gun violence, vandalism, stress and inactivity.

To see the full article, click here.

 

 

Winterizing your vacant property

winter buildingNot all properties can hold up well during the winter. It’s possible a property may get vandalized, pipes may freeze up and water or ice damage may occur if not properly maintained. Review the CAP winterization service checklist to better prepare your property before winter begins.

 To Do

  • Consider if the geographic location of the property is subject to freezing temperatures
  • Protect the property from outside intrusion. Consider changing locks, boarding, fencing, security lighting.
  • Base the level of service upon whether or not the property has been winterized previously
  •  Turn off or install an interior shut-off valve in the property to protect against the risk of the main water line to the building being turned on.
  • Consider whether or not to maintain heat in the building
  • After the winterization is complete, conduct follow up inspections to check on the property (very important)

 To Avoid

  •  Winterizing a property that has not been secured
  •  Shutting down a boiler unless absolutely necessary
  •  Winterizing a fire suppression (sprinkler) system
  •  Shutting off the water supply to a fire suppression system
  •  Winterizing a property with shared water and occupied units
  •  Leaving damaged plumbing unrepaired
  •  A delay in winterizing the property

Read more of Marc Insul’s, president and COO of Commercial Asset Preservation, LLC., winterization advice here: http://www.retailfacilitybusiness.com/industry-voices/405-left-out-in-the-cold-industry-voices.html.

Commercial Asset Preservation, LLC. wants to make sure you’re making the right decisions for your vacant property. We offer efficient means of protecting your investment in a cost-effective manner. We’ll take necessary cost saving actions to preserve and protect the asset. Visit our website for more information.

Protecting vacant property

Being responsible for a vacant property includes insurance risks and liabilities. Every vacant property owner should know the potential risks that come along with it.

 Potential Risks

Vacant buildings are targets for theft, trespassing and vandalism. It is important to keep in mind that owners can be held liable for any criminal activities that may have damaged the property.

Criminal activities can happen night or day and they can be at a rather costly to the property owner. For example, the cost of copper rises as the increase in copper theft continues to occur. Other criminal activities may also include graffiti and/or broken windows, which require a cost to clean and fix the area.

Whether the damage is big or small, vacant properties are vulnerable when it comes to damages such as fire, water damage, electrical explosions, wind or hail damage and mold. A study by the National Fire Protection Association shows that approximately 31,000 fires occur every year in vacant buildings, costing $642 million annually in direct property damage. No matter what, do not let one issue go unnoticed.

Potential environmental hazards are another thing that owners should be aware of. If your facility contains chemicals or other pollutants that may act as a potential threat to the environment, make sure they’re securely stored or removed from the area. The owner may also be held liable for any hazardous materials that contaminate groundwater or other nearby natural resources.

Commercial Asset Preservation, LLC. wants to make sure you’re making the right decisions for your vacant property. We offer efficient means of protecting your investment in a cost-effective manner. We’ll take necessary cost saving actions to preserve and protect the asset. Visit our website for more information

Commercial Building Maintenance Blog Post

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