Saturday, September 17, 2011 / by Justin Hoffmann
After 9/11, theres always a concern about building security, said Chris Corley, director of sales for the BreakWater, a 101-unit high-rise condo development on N. Franklin St. near downtown Milwaukee.
Knowing up front that a condo development has strict security and safety standards is particularly helpful for buyers who plan to use their condominium as a second home, with the intent of living there only a few months out of the year.
So what security measures should buyers look for when condo shopping? While security approaches vary from development to development, there are some standard features condo shoppers should consider when it comes to building safety. First, check the security of the condo developments public areas. Make sure the parking structure, hallways and storage units are well lit and have controlled access like video surveillance or keypad entry.
Every entrance and exit at the Breakwater is monitored with video surveillance, Corley said. He added that an onsite security guard is on duty eight hours a day.
Residents of The Edge, a 133-unit condo development on Commerce St., have the option of viewing guests and delivery people via their TVs before granting them remote access to the building.
Another safety measure characteristic of downtown condo developments requires residents to change their codes for electronic keypads posted at the main building entrances and parking structure every few months.
Security also is a matter of feeling safe in your surroundings. Jean Stefaniak, a real estate agent and part-owner of Stefaniak Group Realtors LLC, always tells her clients to explore the neighborhood where theyre considering buying.
Hang out in the neighborhood. Shop at the local grocery store and visit businesses in the immediate area, said Stefaniak, who represents The Edge in Milwaukees Beerline neighborhood. If it feels good and youre comfortable, than the area is a good fit for you.
Condo buyers should consider fire safety, too. For the best protection, make sure smoke detectors are installed in all condo units and public areas. Automatic sprinkler systems located throughout the building are another regular fire protection feature. Newer condo developments typically feature closed-head sprinkler systems, in which only the sprinkler heads closest to the source of the fire go off, rather than the entire system.
When theres a fire, the majority of damage that occurs is due to water damage, Corley said.
In addition to smoke detectors and sprinkler systems, many condo developments are fully outfitted with monitors to measure carbon monoxide and other potentially dangerous gaseous emissions.
The Breakwater has a third-party service that evaluates all of our different monitors and determines the steps needed depending on the warning level, Corley said.
Safety devices aside, the National Fire Protection Association recommends residents know the locations of all available exits on their floor in case the nearest one is blocked during an emergency situation. Upon moving in, the condo association or building management should present new residents with an owners manual, which identifies all of the buildings emergency exits and outlines evacuation procedures.
Luxury condominium developments like the University Club Tower and Kilbourn Tower, both located in downtown Milwaukee, tend to have higher security standards, including secured entrance to each floor level and in-unit security systems.
Round-the-clock security offers a certain level of comfort and confidence, Stefaniak said.
Whether its 24-hour concierge service or personal security systems for individual units, high-grade security features provide additional reassurance to Milwaukee area condo owners.
By Rebecca R. Konya