HOUSTON-First City Tower at 1001 Fannin is the first office building in Houston to get a courier intercept system, an outgrowth of Sept. 11, says Insignia/ESG, the property manager. A similar move at Eldridge Place is under consideration.

Michael Sweatt, Insignia/ESG director of property management, tells GlobeSt.com that he learned about the service, provided by Toronto-based Inplex Inc., in monthly I/ESG conference calls that focus on building security.

Tenants at First City Tower in the CBD have been receiving 200 to 300 deliveries per day from 15 to 20 courier companies. The logistics of that many people up and down the elevators, aside from the security issues, have always been an area of concern for the property manager, says Sweatt, whose team took over the assignment in January. With the courier intercept system, all inbound and outbound deliveries are accepted at a central area in the lobby to keep unauthorized visitors from entering and leaving the building.

The Sears Tower in Chicago has implemented the same system, but uses X-ray machines to scan packages for its tenants. Sweatt says the X-ray scan most likely will be added at First City Tower in first quarter 2003. The program also in in place at 53 and 75 State Street in Boston and First Canadian Place in Toronto.

Sweatt says the system is really only economically feasible for buildings with more than 500,000 sf because of the labor costs that come with the program. First City Tower is a 49-story, 1.3-million-sf building. Talks are underway to incorporate an intercept system at Eldridge Place, the only other Insignia-managed building that meets the 500,000-sf criteria.

Sweatt says larger tenants, particularly law firms, prefer the lobby check-in for inbound or outbound packages rather than have couriers waiting in their offices while admin staffs process them. He says smaller tenants like Inplex’s processing methodology because it provides a log to use as a double check against courier bills. First City Tower’s tenant roster includes such names as Vinson & Elkins (Enron’s attorneys), Ocean Energy and Waste Management.

Tenant response, says Sweatt, has been tremendous in the three months that the program’s been in place. He says plans are in place for a separate entrance to the 900-sf command center so that couriers won’t even be able to access the lobby.

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