by Jennifer Chestnutt
From parking to patios, storage to poolside seating, space is finite at multifamily properties.
Because square footage is directly linked to revenue at apartment communities, it is critical to leverage each inch of real estate and maximize the return on investment (ROI). Every apartment community has unique spaces throughout its design that are ripe with revenue potential. Often, those spaces were designed with a specific purpose in mind but have long since ceased to deliver value to residents or ROI to operators.
Some of the most common culprits in multifamily are package rooms and package locker facilities. In recent years, and particularly since the start of the pandemic, property managers have witnessed the shortcomings of those package solutions. E-commerce trends have created package volume levels that have outpaced the capabilities of package rooms and lockers, forcing operators to find additional space for package storage.
We’ve even heard horror stories about property teams converting fitness centers, apartment units and leasing offices into overflow package rooms just to manage the escalating package volume, displacing leasing teams, impacting potential revenue and simply detracting from the community’s appeal in the process. But what if, rather than dedicating additional space to package storage, property managers could reduce the square footage required for package management to zero?
With a third-party package management solution that stores resident deliveries off-site, that’s the reality. When packages are received and stored off-site and delivered directly to residents, package lockers become obsolete and package rooms become unnecessary.
Instead of scrambling to find additional space for package storage, the question becomes what to do with those unneeded package rooms and the space previously occupied by lockers. The possibilities for that recovered square footage are endless, but we have come up with a few suggestions to maximize ROI:
Repurpose the space to improve operations
Package storage has encroached on leasing and maintenance teams for years, but removing package storage from the property affords the opportunity to repurpose that precious real estate to benefit operations and increase efficiency.
Package rooms located adjacent to leasing offices can be converted for back-office purposes – getting printers and copy machines out of the front office to create a more efficient workspace, declutter the leasing environment and improve the aesthetics for that all-important first impression for prospects.
Package rooms can easily be transitioned into an office for management or resident services, creating a physical go-to location for residents seeking assistance, and providing the privacy occasionally required when dealing with sensitive matters.
The space could also be used as a maintenance office – typically an overlooked component in property designs – establishing a hub for technicians when they aren’t in the shop or out on the property resolving a service request. A maintenance office also creates a more conducive location for in-person conversations between maintenance team members and management, or with residents, improving communication and streamlining maintenance workflow.
Convert it into an amenity
Package rooms are an ideal size for conversions into niche amenities such as co-working spaces, community mini-marts, classrooms, game rooms, dog wash facilities or bike repair rooms. Operators never know when a seemingly minor amenity offering might check off a must-have for a given prospect and make the difference in landing a new lease.
Square footage previously dedicated to package storage could also be repurposed into amenities with more direct revenue potential, like leasable studio spaces, offices or storage facilities. Even consider using the space to offer other rentals, like pool toys, bikes, grilling equipment, etc.
Create a new livable space
Of course, any substantial space within a multifamily property can also be used as the ultimate revenue generator – a new apartment home. Not every former package room is big enough to accommodate a two-bedroom two-bath home, but they can probably be retrofitted into a new studio apartment.
Other options include using the space as a short-term rental, which can yield a significant ROI, or as a leasable guest room that residents can reserve when family or friends come to visit.
Finding a revenue-generating use for reclaimed space within a multifamily community isn’t difficult, and fortunately neither is freeing up that space by eliminating package rooms and locker systems, and replacing them with a package management solution that requires no onsite footprint at all.