When you’re designing multifamily communities, resident satisfaction should be a top priority in your project. There are a few solutions that architects and developers can include in their design to ensure happier building occupants and property managers and create a successful residential project.
While installing centralized mailboxes in apartment communities is required by the U.S. Postal Service, there are a number of decisions to make. So how do you pick the best apartment mailbox for your building?
Tips for Picking a Centralized Mailbox System
Providing an efficient mail delivery solution for residents is a must, however, finding the right solution can be an uninspiring balancing act.
Selecting the right centralized mailbox model might feel like a drain when you’re trying to get a project done on time. Postal mailbox applications can be a process (and headache) for busy professionals. But a centralized mailbox system is a necessity that will be used by residents every day so it’s important that design and construction professionals give it appropriate consideration to find the right solution for their customers.
Here are some guidelines to help you decide what type of centralized mailbox solution is needed for your project.
1. Remember, you’ll need to meet United States Postal Service (USPS) standards for mail delivery.
That’s because the USPS is responsible for establishing a method of delivery for all new residential developments. So it’s imperative to choose a USPS compliant mailbox system.
The USPS has provided extensive guidelines for builders and developers when it comes to requirements for centralized mailbox selection and installation — it covers everything from safety codes to mail carrier accessibility.
Centralized mail delivery is required for any new residential and commercial development. While some residential communities still use curbside mailboxes, “centralized delivery is our preferred method of mail delivery,” according to the USPS. “Centralized delivery equipment improves delivery efficiency and provides space for large mail items, including packages, which is a great benefit for the customer.”
2. Think about how the model will fit into your design.
Centralized mailbox systems can be mounted on pedestals, in free-standing kiosks or installed in (or on) a wall. The different mailbox models offer developers design solution alternatives.
Residential developments have their own design standards and style. The mailbox system you choose should help to enhance that design aesthetic and keep that style consistent throughout the property.
3. Plan your mailbox installation before you choose equipment.
Details can sometimes get overlooked, so plan the design and installation of your centralized mailbox system in a way that fits in with the community layout to provide convenient “flow” for residents, mail carriers and property management staff.
Mailboxes might not be the biggest priority on a developer’s checklist, but pre-construction planning for your centralized mailbox is a crucial step. If the mailbox units and installation plan don’t meet local requirements for mail delivery and safety or accessibility codes, this will create project delays and potential costs down the line.
NOTE: The USPS approves both STD-4C mailboxes and cluster box units (CBU) for multifamily communities and single-family neighborhoods using outdoor installations. The 4C mailbox systems offer more custom configuration and parcel locker options for developers and property owners if standard CBU mailboxes aren’t sufficient.
4. Is the space accessible to both mail carriers and residents?
Make sure there’s a clear path for mail carriers and residents, and provide a walkway if necessary. There should also be a five-foot diameter turn-around space in front of the mailboxes to meet accessibility requirements.
It is important to contact the local USPS office early in your project to discuss the location for the centralized mailbox systems for your new development. “Cluster boxes must be safely located so that customers are not required to travel an unreasonable distance to obtain their mail and so there is sufficient access to mailbox locations with adequate space for carriers to deliver and customers to retrieve the mail,” recommends the USPS. A centralized mailbox unit is usually within one block of residences.
5. Think about safety measures for resident packages.
Keeping all mail and packages secure (and protected from weather damage) is key.
The designer and developer will need to ensure that a mailbox system provides enough space for packages to be delivered for all residents. Alternate configurations using STD 4C mailboxes allow add-ons like parcel lockers that give designers more solutions for package delivery in a common mailroom when more package space is needed.
If an outdoor community mailroom is in the design, stand-alone Outdoor Parcel Lockers (OPL) matching the Cluster Box Units are an easy alternative to add more shared, secure package delivery space.
6. Think through how the mailbox units will be identified.
It’s highly recommended to use sequential numbering identification, as opposed to mailbox IDs that match residents’ apartment or house numbers. This gives property managers more flexibility for assigning mailbox compartments and gives residents more security and privacy.
Solutions for Efficient Mail Delivery
Designing and installing your centralized mailbox system can be a straightforward process when you know what to consider. Manufacturers like Florence Corporation want to make the planning and construction process easier for architects and developers who need centralized mailbox solutions (without the headaches).
With both USPS-approved and private delivery products, Florence provides industry professionals with centralized mailboxes and parcel lockers that offer the highest standards of security and durability. And if you need a customized installation, Florence’s national network of Authorized Florence Dealers will assist you in creating specialized product installations for your new commercial or residential development.
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