Closed valet services, temperature checks upon entry, spaced-out pool chairs and capacity limits in elevators are all now part of a typical day at South Florida luxury residential towers amid coronavirus.
Across the region, condo boards and property management companies have been stocking up on personal protective equipment since the pandemic began, as well as working on reopening plans and budgeting for staff and resources.
Living in a luxury building is taking on a whole new look.
Non-essential businesses, including restaurants and retail, were allowed to reopen in parts of Miami-Dade County on Monday. Though amenities such as fitness centers are still shut down, many residential buildings are establishing procedures for reopening.
The Marquis in downtown Miami’s condo board made its preparations early.
The board purchased about 22,000 masks and thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer “before the management companies and the hospitals had them,” said Allan Schwartz, president of the Marquis association.
The building became “mask-only” very early on, Schwartz said, when officials were encouraging people not to use masks. The 292-unit building also includes a 130-key hotel. At any one time, there are about 400 residents living there, he said.
The Marquis tore up its pool deck and replaced the furniture and umbrellas. Most outside vendors were barred from entering, as were most move-ins and move-outs.
By the end of 2020, Schwartz said he “would not be a bit surprised” if the association spends $150,000 on expenses that include purchasing hand sanitizer towers that take someone’s temperature and hand sanitizer pumps with iPad-like displays showing customized programming. Expenses also cover improvements to the lobby, and signage for the elevators and other common spaces. Schwartz said the building is also paying bonuses to employees that have been working during the pandemic, and has continued to pay those who didn’t feel comfortable coming to work.
“The board took the position we would spend the money that needed to be spent to be well prepared to go through the end of this year,” he said.
When the pool is allowed to reopen, cushions will be alternated to space people out. And if “worst comes to worst, we will close the pool deck again,” Schwartz added.
Associations and management companies with the budgets to do so are also enacting increased cleaning. Alex Martin, vice president of KW Property Management & Consulting, said the company is making recommendations such as cleaning elevators every 15 minutes, checking residents’ and guests’ temperatures, and installing touchless entry. Front desk staff should be wearing gloves at all times, and changing them frequently. Management should consider screening residents who come in with luggage to identify residents with quarantine obligations.
KWPMC is also making recommendations about maintaining HVAC systems, and keeping gyms and pools clean. At the same time, residential buildings throughout Florida are planning for hurricane season, Martin added.
The company manages 90,000 condo units in Florida, including the Marquis, Brickell Flatiron, Eighty Seven Park in North Beach, Brickell Heights and 900 Biscayne.
“I want these buildings clean like a hospital,” Martin said. “I want them better than a hospital.”
The Continuum, a two-tower, 522-unit luxury condo development in Miami Beach, purchased between 3,000 and 4,000 masks, and provided antibody testing to more than 400 residents and employees, said Keith Marks, a real estate agent who is president of the master condo association. The property has spent about $25,000 on equipment and supplies since the outbreak hit, including high-powered cleaning tools and touchless thermometers.
The complex is also now offering virtual fitness classes, in-home delivery for discounted gym and training products, and in-home delivery of items from the on-site Patio restaurant, said Rishi Idnani, managing director at the Continuum.
When the gyms are allowed to reopen at the Continuum’s north and south towers, residents will be separated from others by plexiglass barriers, in addition to the required physical distance between machines. The 100 pieces of furniture on each pool deck have been cut by 50 percent. Residents from 25 units will be able to use the pools, with reservations, for two-hour time slots, and employees will clean and sanitize those areas in between shifts.
Not all residents agree with the rules in their buildings, though.
Andres Asion, a Miami Beach broker and resident at Murano at Portofino in South Beach, said the building has been requesting that guests wear masks and gloves, and that residents meet their guests in the lobby, to then travel together in an elevator back up to a unit.
Murano began allowing contractors back into the building on Monday, and reopened the tennis courts, but is not allowing residents to bring a guest or coach to the courts.
Though Asion is on board with the use of masks and other precautionary measures, “some rules are ridiculous,” he said, such as requiring guests to enter wearing gloves.
“Why do you care that someone comes in with gloves?” he said.