Landlords Beef Up Security

March 20, 2003

Under "orange" alert and amid the continuing war in Iraq, landlords are beefing up already-tight security measures at their properties, banning everything from personal food deliveries (deliveries must be left at the lobby) to visitors without photo ID.

A lot of these measures and many others, such as bag searches and requiring employees to wear ID chains around their necks, were implemented immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. In some cases, the restrictions were relaxed somewhat, if not abandoned, as time passed. But since the beginning of the year, with the threat level raised twice to orange from yellow -- in February and then again last week when war began in Iraq -- some building owners and managers have gone back to being no nonsense about security. And the ones who never eased up on the restrictions are getting even tougher.

CarrAmerica Realty Corp., a Washington-based office real-estate investment trust that owns and operates 20 high-rise office buildings in Washington, D.C., eight of which are within a block of the White House, last week implemented strict access control in the lobbies of its Washington buildings. Guards now check to make sure everyone who enters is an employee of a tenant in the building as opposed to the usual open policy.

CarrAmerica also makes tenants put visitors on preregistered lists. If a visitor isn't on such a list, a lobby attendant contacts the employee and has him or her come to the lobby and escort the visitor.

Since last week, Arlington, Va., retail-center owner Mills Corp., has beefed up the presence of security guards at its retail entertainment centers, increased patrols both inside and outside and enhanced checks of delivery vehicles.

The concern over terrorism is especially acute in New York City, which has been on orange alert since the code-alert system was implemented after the 2001 attacks and which last week instituted Operation Atlas, the police department's terrorism-prevention plan.

Landlords and property managers there are taking no chances. In addition to access control procedures it had put into effect over the past 18 months, Related Management, a New York-based manager of apartment buildings and a unit of Related Cos., also recently restricted UPS and FedEx personnel's access to the lobby and valet areas of its luxury residential buildings in New York, barred food deliverers and messengers access to apartment areas, and asked its garage operators to conduct random inspections of the trunks of every nonresident vehicle and to view the undersides of those cars using special mirrors.

Trizec Properties, Inc., a Chicago-based owner of office buildings, has increased police patrols of seven office buildings in New York City and Jersey City, N.J., that have Wall Street securities firms as tenants.

On Monday, the U.S. government resumed 24-hour air patrols over the city after warnings that New York was in special danger of terrorist attack during the war. Tuesday, Gifford Miller, New York's city council speaker, and Yvette D. Clarke, chairwoman of the fire and criminal justice services committee, unveiled a proposal that would require that all commercial businesses and high-rise structures undergo a thorough inspection by the city's fire department to prepare for potential terrorism risks. "This is not a response to the war in Iraq but a response to the new world that we were living in before Iraq and we will continue to live in after Iraq," Mr. Miller said.

A number of owners were reluctant to talk about security measures out of fear that such information could be used to aid criminals in their attempts to thwart security. "Criminals read the paper," a spokeswoman from a major mall owner explained.

from Wall Street Journal

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