Gardens for Better Communities!

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In our last blog, we discussed the hottest amenities for 2017. One amenity caught the eyes of our readers: gardens and vegetation. Having greenery around a property is nothing new, but showcasing it as an amenity is. Take Fuse Cambridge for example. This year, they installed a Living Green Wall (seen above) by Cityscapes, which has more benefits than just visual appeal. Content producer Lauren Shanesy writes, “In addition to complementing Fuse’s LEED Silver certification, the plants themselves aid in providing natural air filtration, sound insulation, and thermal regulation within the space while reducing residents’ stress levels, as well”. A wall of vegetation may not work for your community, but a community garden might. With communities competing for new residents, appealing to green thumbs can be a great angle.  Here are three reasons why a community garden is a way to separate your community from others.

Save on produce costs

A community garden is great way to give residents a way to grow their own produce. Health conscience residents will spend top dollar at the grocery store for organic produce. What if you gave residents a way to grow produce that meets their needs? If you can market this interest, it can be a selling point. Residents may love the idea, but may have never had a garden. Nothing a community event can’t solve! Current green thumbs may see interest in leading a few community classes to help. This can help your community get more social while growing healthy produce for all to enjoy! Sounds like a win/win to us.

Low Costs for Gardens

The cost of starting a community garden can vary, but the majority of the cost is up front. This will be in the form of tools, fencing and other gardening staples but the investment is worth the costs. Todd Tibbits, senior vice president of property services for Post Properties states: “Community gardens pay for themselves in the same way a community pool or tennis court does – in resident satisfaction.” Plus, many communities cover costs through plot rental fees. The cost is low since the residents are responsible for the care, but going back to point number one, money for produce goes into the garden and not the grocery store.

Increased Property Values

Studies have shown that high-quality community gardens can increase property values in neighborhoods. The largest increases are in lower-income communities but higher-income communities see a bump too. To keep the garden higher quality, a landscape professional can provide some consultations and advice. This will help everyone in the community understand how to maintain the investment. Higher property values can give a boost to your revenue in the long term so protect your asset!

Community gardens are a great way to engage with residents. With the right marketing, residents find value in knowing where their produce comes from. The cost of starting a garden is upfront and can offset with minor plot rental fees. Finally, the garden can boost property value. Interested in finding out more? Consult with a local landscaping professional to see what’s possible. Never forget that a little green goes a long way!

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2017 Amenities – The Year of the Garden

amenitiesAmenities play a major role for residents joining a community. There are the typical amenities, such as a clubhouse and a gym, but apartment renters expect unique offerings to make a community their home. Amenities are a deciding factor. Like all things, amenities are subject to trends and popularity. While 2017 seems far away, the newest trends in amenities are coming into the spotlight. If you’re responsible for the budget, you should take these amenities into consideration before letting the ink dry.

Gardens

Yep, 2017 is the year of the garden! From living art walls to herb and vegetable gardens, community vegetation is on the rise. Not only do they promote social interactions amongst residents, they provide access to healthy food! Many city communities are adopting these ideas so residents can step out of the urban jungle while they’re home. While they’ve been around for a while, expect to see a significant increase in 2017. Read more about community gardens in our next blog!

Luxury Experiences

When residents come home from a hard day of work, they want to relax. There are a few ways to do this and in 2017, having a taste of the good life will be a selling point. What could be better than grabbing a bottle of your favorite wine from the secure on-site wine cellar? Maybe a massage from the on-call masseuse in a private therapy room is more your speed. There are communities even starting to install commercial grade kitchens for guest chefs and test kitchen events. We bet a few people could get used to that kind of life.

Package Management

Package management has been a hot amenity for the past few years, but the trend will continue to grow since capabilities have expanded. Examples include dry cleaning pickup and outbound shipping from the lockers themselves. The customization levels have also improved; custom colors and even seasonal wraps are available. The peak of innovation hasn’t hit this amenity yet! Expect package management to be a more “standard” amenity starting in 2017.

Amenities of Tomorrow, Today

2017 is just around the corner. Providing amenities that draw residents in has always been important, but the difference today is in the diversity. These three amenities are a good way to stand out from the competition and they could be a deciding factor for new residents and for renewals. Knowing what your community wants is important, but providing what they didn’t know they wanted works wonders. An amenity today can mean happy residents and more profit tomorrow!

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FHA To Save the Day!

FHA

FHA Helps Save Money

In case you missed it, the FHA has cut insurance premiums for certain multifamily mortgages. The changes took effect on April 1, 2016 and place an emphasis on energy efficiency. The change also impacts affordable and mixed-income communities with reductions for housing affordability. FHA expects the reductions to spur the rehabilitation or production of 12,000 additional apartment units every year and reduce rent and utility costs for residents. It also displays major support from the government for multifamily to get green. So what are the qualifications and details exactly? Could your project be up for a rate reduction? Here are the main details you need to know, provided by housingonline.com‘s magazine, Tax Credit Advisor:

  • FHA is lowering its multifamily insurance premiums to 25 basis points a year for energy-efficient properties. That’s a reduction of 20 or 25 basis points for many existing properties, with even larger savings for new construction deals. These properties must commit to meet an industry-recognized green building standard. Owners must also keep their buildings in the top 25% of multifamily buildings nationwide for energy performance, as determined using the Environmental Protection Agency’s Portfolio Manager 100-point score.
  • FHA is also lowering its annual multifamily insurance premiums to 25 basis points for “broadly affordable” housing. That includes properties where at least 90% of the units are covered by a Section 8 contract or the affordability requirements of the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program.
  • FHA is lowering its annual multifamily insurance rates to 35 basis points for properties that mix affordable housing with market-rate housing. That’s a reduction of 10 to 35 basis points from current rates. That includes properties that have set aside units based on affordability under programs including LIHTC, Section 8, inclusionary zoning, or other local affordability programs.

Win/Win For All!

Take note that insurance premiums won’t change for properties not meeting any of the criteria. For those that do qualify, the annual savings are substantial and owners and managers should look to see if they can take advantage of this powerful new incentive. The FHA has taken steps to help everyone in multifamily. Property owners can save money and renters have greater access to affordable rents and healthy units.  Plus, going green and competitive pricing are great ways to market your community. With this initiative, everybody wins!

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More than Half Way There!

Red_Gray_Map_NEW315-01Recently, Package Concierge entered a thrilling chapter in our company’s story. We’re excited to let all of our friends and partners know that we’re now in 26 states across America! This is big news for us, especially since we’ve only been a company since December 2012. Even though our expansion across the country has been fast, we’d like to let everyone know that the credit goes to our amazing clients who believed in us early on such as Alliance Residential, The Bozzuto Group and The JBG Companies, and partners like Florence Manufacturing and The Container Store. When you think about it, our growth is great for everyone. Here are a few reasons why.

  • Expanding Technology: As we receive feedback from system users, we alter and tailor the user experience to truly reflect their wants and needs. In previous blogs, we mentioned examples of this such as our mobile app, systems with dry cleaning pick up, and even resident shipping and returns from Package Concierge lockers. These ideas stemmed from our expansion and user feedback. As this grows, so will the possibilities.
  • Secure and Safe Deliveries: Our expansion hasn’t been by accident; our clients and partners know that the name Package Concierge is synonymous with the words security and safety. This is a big driver in our growth and the more Package Concierge systems are out in the world; the more deliveries reach their final destinations instead of ending in the hands of unintended recipients.
  • Organization and Value for All: A Package Concierge system doesn’t just provide a delivery point for packages; it stimulates growth in other areas as well. For example, our customers see an increase in resident satisfaction, the end of untidy/messy package rooms, organized storage of packages on-site, and most importantly the saving of staff time. Also, because of the quality of our system, it is considered a valuable property asset, not just an amenity that is in high demand. These attributes help keep both residents and leasing agents happy, which in turn can keep a community thriving and growing.

As you can see, growth can be a very good thing. We’re not about to lose sight of what’s important to us, which is all who have helped guide us into this position. We assure you, we’re going to maximize upon our growth to make Package Concierge the best it has ever been. And soon enough, we’ll be crossing our 27th state line.

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Bozzuto and the BMAs

Bozzuto Name and SloganIn this week’s blog, we would like to give recognition where recognition is due. When the ideals of superior customer service, innovative industry leadership, and passion for community-based values are the heart of your business model, Package Concierge takes notice. The company that is the literal definition of this is The Bozzuto Group and Bozzuto Management Company (Bozzuto).

Bozzuto has spent more than 25 years building and managing numerous multifamily properties. Founded in 1988 by Tom Bozzuto, Rick Mostyn, John Slidell, and the late Bernard Lubcher, Bozzuto Management has grown into a leader in property development and management. Their logo, which was created by Barbara Bozzuto, is in the firm’s signature color of “Bozzuto Green.” However, Bozzuto Management’s connection to “green” goes beyond the color of their logo; they’re committed to “green energy” not just as a company but also as a community leader. Bozzuto takes pride in multifamily property recycling programs and in obtaining LEED certifications in building and development.

Bozzuto_Office

Bozzuto invests in honest and creative leadership, customer and community satisfaction, powerful business relationships, and the sustainability of the Earth’s environment. And, they know that excellence begins with the more than 2,000 people they employ. That is why every year they host the Bozzuto Management Awards (BMAs).

On Thursday, March 10th, in the National Building Museum located in our nation’s capital the BMAs will recognize Property and Service Managers along with individuals and teams of employees. Awards range from “Property Manager of the Year” to “Resident Services.” Package Concierge is proudly sponsoring this year’s event as a display of camaraderie and commitment to Bozzuto and we’re excited to spend time with industry leaders equally as passionate as us.

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One of Bozzuto’s properties that has recently received recognition is the The Frasier, located in Alexandria, VA. This modern and luxurious apartment community was a Gold winner in the Multi-Housing News (MHN) 2015 Excellence Awards; Most Tech Savvy Community. Package Concierge is proud to be associated with The Frasier. Our package locker system is mentioned by MHN as one of the most popular technology services at The Frasier.

As our relationship with Bozzuto continues to grow, we at Package Concierge know that our shared values are at the core of what we do and how we do it. We are excited to celebrate the successes at the BMAs this week and we look forward to the future!

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Leap for Free Rent Day!

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What are you going to do with this extra day of the year? We have arrived at another intercalary year; better known as leap year. But when you think about it, this year renters receive an extra day in their properties for FREE! That’s right! So whom do we need to thank for this extra day of multifamily living? That answer goes back farther than you may realize.

Around 46 B.C., Julius Caesar decided that every four years we get an extra day added to the year to balance out the 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds that accompanies the 365 days it takes the earth to orbit the sun. Now, Mr. Caesar didn’t quite get leap year right the first time. That’s why over 1,500 years later Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar to better regulate the bonus time of a year. His calendar added centuries to the equation, thus making years that are divisible by 100 and not divisible by 400.

The benefit of that extra day in February every four years is a “rent free day.” Most leases are based on 365 days in a year, which means renters score an extra day in their homes for free! This is definitely a reason for celebration and the last time we welcomed an extra day in the year, Package Concierge was just gearing up as a company.

In the leap year of 2012 Package Concierge was founded. And after only a few years we are in 26 states providing our services to multifamily and student housing properties. In 2015, we received the Customer Experience Innovation Award, a crowning achievement for a company less than 5 years old. Package Concierge believes in making the most of the time we have, and that’s why we are committed to providing our customers with the latest technological advancements in package management.

Package Concierge is serious about security and convenience all year long, whether its 365 days or 366. So, what are you going to do with your “rent free” day this year? Maybe, host a “rent free day” party? Whatever you do, make sure you and your friends thank Julius Caesar for the extra time we have in 2016!

 

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Client Spotlight: Central Park at Whisman Station

Whisman_SceneicOur latest client spotlight is host to some of the most scenic views of any property we’ve featured. Central Park at Whisman Station is located in Mountain View, California. The vistas of the Santa Cruz Mountains compliment this luxurious multifamily property and create a beautiful landscape of the surrounding area

Managed by Alliance Residential, Whisman Station is just one example of their dedication to multifamily living done right. They also are advocates for luxurious living with a reduced carbon footprint. Alliance’s “Focus Green” program seeks to reduce the consumption of energy and natural resources at each community, as well as educate and encourage residents to participate in eco-friendly lifestyles. As they celebrate their management leadership this week, Alliance Residential truly has the best interests of their residents in mind.

Whisman_Lobby

After taking in all of the glorious scenery, you can explore even more of Mountain View on the bike path, or one of the numerous jogging/walking trails of the Whisman Station community. Other amenities include a fitness center, a relaxation spa, and a resort inspired swimming pool. And for members of the “green” team, there are new energy efficient appliance packages and electric vehicle charging stations.

Whisman_PoolIn an area where technology companies thrive and innovation is around every corner, Central Park at Whisman Station also provides its residents with a technologically advanced Package Concierge. The system is cozily tucked away in a convenient alcove, but don’t be fooled by its discreet location; this system has received more than 2,000 packages since it’s installation this past November!

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Package Concierge provides secure storage for items intended for Whisman Station’s residents. Brittany, a Sales Associate at the property, mentioned how the system has improved the lives of the residents. “The Package Concierge system works well, everyone likes it.” Brittany also said, “The notification that Package Concierge sends to residents when packages have been received are very convenient.” When we asked Brittany how often the Package Concierge system was utilized, her response was, “It is used quite often; we’re actually considering ordering another one!”

Not too long ago, Mountain View was just a stagecoach stop in the newly settled west. Now, it’s the home of “tech giants” like Google, Mozilla and Symantec. And for those that call Central Park at Whisman Station home, Package Concierge is the package management “giant” that they can depend on for convenience and security.

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Valentine’s Day Recap

Vday-01-1At Package Concierge, we value our customers 365 days a year, but on Valentine’s Day, we like to show a little extra love. Last week, you may have noticed a lot of twitter pated people receiving packages from love birds near and far. For example, Ten Faxon (a Greystar property) and the Allegro (a Bozzuto property) saw close to double the amount of deliveries when compared to the week before. Here are some interesting facts and statistics about Valentine’s Day that might make you rethink the significance of packages on February 14th.

Did you know that next to Christmas, Valentine’s Day stands as the most active holiday for shipping gifts? In 2015, more than $18 billion was spent on Valentine’s Day cards and gifts; with items like flowers, jewelry, apparel and specialty gifts totaling more than $155 million. Valentine’s Day gift buying is expected to exceed $19 billion in 2016 according to Fundivo.com, with $142 being the average amount spent on gifts.

So what do these stats mean? Delivery carriers often face the challenge of ensuring that these tokens of affection reach their final destination on time and in pristine condition. While loved ones make the purchase, gifts go through many hands to ensure that Valentine’s Day is special for everyone. At the end of the day, gift givers want to make sure their sentiments are securely delivered. That’s where Package Concierge steps in.

Security isn’t just found in our rigorously tested materials but also in our technology. When a recipient is sent a gift, they’re immediately notified that a package has arrived. Then, they simply go to the Package Concierge where their item is being held to pick it up. We believe every package that goes into our system is priceless. So whether it’s Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year, just know that gifts of all sizes, shapes and prices are made more secure inside a Package Concierge locker and we hope that your treasures found their recipients quickly for the special day.

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Client Spotlight: Lorenzo Student Housing

This Package Concierge client spotlight takes us to the left coast. The Lorenzo, a new upscale student housing community located in Los Angeles, California occupies some prime real estate in the heart of the LA scene. The Lorenzo community offers USC students an upscale alternative to on-campus living while providing convenient access to venues such as LA Live and the Staples Center; it’s also the largest luxury student housing community in the U.S.Lorenzo 1

With so much to do in a city unlike any other, the amenities at The Lorenzo will add to your list. Free Wi-Fi across the community, four libraries and numerous study rooms meet the needs of every student. And when it’s time to socialize, check out the rooftop sundeck that features grilling and picnic stations or the karaoke room if you are in a singing mood. Need to blow off some steam or test your athletic abilities? Shoot some hoops on one of two Lakers and Clippers themed regulation sized courts or you can climb the two story rock climbing wall; its up to you. Need a pick me up? Enjoy free Starbucks coffee before you catch the complimentary shuttle to class and when you return, be ready to indulge in “Chick-Fil-A Days” or other fun events. There’s a 100-stadium seating movie theater and a social lounge too. But in Eddie’s opinion, the best amenity is the onsite Package Concierge system.

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Being that Eddie is the Package Manager at The Lorenzo, he knows what life was like before they installed the Package Concierge system. “We would spend all day logging in packages and sending our residents an email to come pick up their package.” And since use of the Package Concierge has begun Eddie says, “Now the carriers come directly to the system, deposit the packages, and the residents can come pick them up whenever they want, anytime of day, 24/7.”

lorenzo-student-housingtheater01It’s this level of satisfaction that Package Concierge aims to meet with all our clients and their residents. Eddie also mentioned to us, “I don’t see why all mail can’t be like this. It’s perfect, it works and it’s great.”

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Package Concierge’s 456 lockers are conveniently located in the nearby community courtyard. We are proud to make easier the lives of more than three thousand students living at The Lorenzo!

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Green Spring Cleaning

Whether you like to keep things neat and tidy, or you are the “I’ll get to it later” type, eventually, we all must clean our living space. Let’s face it, apartments big and small get cluttered over the winter. Everyone packs things away, waiting for the good weather to return and when it does–it’s time to clean! But that can be a daunting task especially since it requires using so many chemicals. Chemicals that smell. Chemicals that stain. Chemicals that just aren’t good for you or the environment.

Over the past few years, green cleaning products have soared in popularity and availability. If you’re not already using them, next time you reach for a bottle of floor cleaner or dish soap at the store, there are many options for Earth-friendly cleaning. Check for local brands first, but there are several big-name brands that can be found in most stores and are available just in time for spring cleaning!

Mrs. Meyers:cleaning1

With adorable retro packaging, and inspired by a real mother of nine, Mrs. Meyers cleaning and scent products are all natural and environmentally friendly. Plus they come in a variety of aromatherapeutic scents (the lavender is amazing!)

Simple Green:

As the leader in environmentally-friendly, high quality cleaning products, Simple Green leads the green market by offering a long list of products for different surfaces and purposes.

Seventh Generation:

One of the larger brands in green cleaning, Seventh Generation has a huge product range, including all types of cleaners as well as personal care products. Prices are typically comparable to standard brands and you’re sure to feel better buying these.

cleaning3Green Works:

Green Works is the natural arm of the Clorox cleaners family. Also well-priced, and focusing more on household cleaning, these products work well in removing a variety of stains and are typically 95 percent or more natural.

These, and plenty other brands of green cleaning products are easy to find, and a super simple way to be kind to the planet.

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