By Jeff Levy, Regional Vice President of Property Management
The role property management plays has increasingly become integral in determining success of a real estate company. The more efficient a company is in managing its real estate assets, the better the company’s bottom line. One way to achieve this is to identify opportunities where operational expenses can be improved without jeopardizing renters’ needs and quality of a great shopping experience. Here are a few examples I’ve learned from my own experience.
Get smart with spaces
Williamsville Place in suburban Buffalo, NY is a perfect example of why properties should be treated as a canvas in which operators or property managers unleash their creative thinking. When Buffalo’s iconic restaurant, Chef’s, was in search for a second location for its expansion, it was looking for a corner unit so that they could build a pickup window to launch its first ‘Chef’s On The Go’ model. The issue with the only corner unit available at Williamsville Place was that it was too big for what Chef’s needed. As a solution, DLC decided to demise the space into two separate units so that Chef’s could take the corner unit which satisfied their business needs.
Following the demising partition, DLC had to figure out how to provide the electricity for the newly built unit because the center was already at its full capacity of electricity supply. The answer to this question was found in the center’s parking lot. We were able to save about 126 amps of electricity by retrofitting the parking lot with LED lighting, then diverted it to Chef’s, which required roughly 100 amps than we had available. By drawing the electric current from the parking lot to the new unit, it eliminated the need to install a new switch gear which would have cost $80,000 – $90,000. In the end, DLC’s creativity paid off for both parties as Chef’s secured the perfect site for its expanding business while we cut down the electricity bill by 70 percent.
In 2018, DLC retrofitted the pylon sign at Walmart Plaza in Olean, NY with LED lights. In the same year, there was a severe windstorm which ended up knocking over the pylon sign. The structure of the sign failed however the LED lights were unaffected unlike the traditional lightbulbs which would not have survived such a fall. What I did afterwards was astoundingly simple. I took out the LED strips and hooked them onto the transformer in my living room to check if they worked properly. Then, I put them into the a pylon sign that had not been retrofitted at another center.
That year, DLC had put aside the budget of $60,000 for the retrofit of pylon sign. Because the pylon sign was retrofitted with salvaged as LED strips were not harmed, we ended up spending only about $10,000 on installing the LEDs in the sign. Cost efficiency is surely one apex of LED lighting.
Another huge benefit to having LED pylon sign is that you can avoid the maintenance work that comes with a traditional pylon sign. For a sign with fluorescent light bulbs, it needs a regular check up every six months. It’s a daunting task given heavy trucks and forklifts are involved to get the work done; doing so often interferes with traffic and everyday shopping experience. On the contrary, LED lighting uses substantially less power and lasts about 15 years, which translates into much less maintenance demands and huge savings.
Take Advantage of the Latest Technology
Long before the age of smart lighting control system, I remember the old days when I had to visit each property in Buffalo to manually turn on the parking lot lights on cold winter days. I’m glad I no longer have to do this as DLC installed smart Wireless telematics at all our properties in suburban Buffalo to monitor the usage of and control the outdoor lighting.
This lighting control and monitoring system is connected to the internet and automatically adjusts on and off times daily accordingly to sunrise and sunset changes. This gives property managers freedom to work on other matters or even be offsite while enjoying 100 percent control of parking lot lighting. As this system allows you to set different on and off times of lighting depending on each property’s needs, it increases overall energy efficiency of all real estate assets. For example, the electricity bill of our Union Consumer Square in Buffalo went down by 30 percent after installing the wireless telematics and at Thruway Plaza the savings were in the same 30 percent area. Finally, while wireless telematics system creates notifications in real time on power outages and restoration, it also reports on run times and such reports can be handy in case an incident happens.
Jeff Levy is Regional Vice President of Property Management. In this role, Jeff supervises DLC’s property management personnel in Buffalo and Elmsford, New York.