Vacant properties covered in plywood cause surrounding property values to plummet, invite crime, and are a blight that SecureView is determined to eliminate across the country.
The company’s virtually indestructible polycarbonate product secures vacant properties but looks like regular windows, improving the curb appeal of the property (and neighborhood) while keeping it secure.
“We have a discreet approach,” said James O’Brien, CEO of SecureView. “Rather than call attention to vacancy by boarding with plywood, SecureView is undetectable, making the property look occupied. It’s far more secure and much easier to show to a prospective buyer.”
The company was started in 2010 by two industry veterans: Howard Wedren, founder of Dayton Street Partners, and Robert Klein, founder and Chairman of Safeguard Properties. Both had a desire to change the way vacant, boarded-up properties affected whole neighborhoods, and thought a polycarbonate product might be the solution. The result is a patented window covering that’s virtually unbreakable.
“It’s one of the most resilient forms of polycarbonate available, similar to bullet-proof glass. You can hit it with a hammer or throw a brick at it and it will not break,” O’Brien said.
SecureView is used by lenders, field servicers and property end-users. “It’s important for us to engage lenders and GSEs in presale as it is the most effective way to combat blight because it is preventative,” O’Brien said.
Outside of residential homes, SecureView is also used on commercial properties and by cities and municipalities for their unique set of needs, O’Brien said.
Cities have a particular interest in securing vacant property. For instance, while overall crime in Chicago fell in 2012, crimes reported in the city’s abandoned buildings climbed to 2,600 — averaging out to more than seven a day.
The Housing Authority of Cook County, Illinois, which owns more than 2,000 units of lower-income housing, chose SecureView as the sole contractor for its properties during renovation. Public housing projects usually have some part of the property vacant, but boarding up those apartments attracts vandalism, creating a safety hazard for the existing residents. SecureView allows contractors to safely leave their materials onsite and makes the property safe for residents during the process, O’Brien said. It also improves safety for emergency responders going into the units.
“At this time there is a true call to action to deal with problematic and abandoned properties,” O’Brien said. “We are proud to be part of the solution and provide a superior alternative to boarding materials used in the past.”
The city of Detroit has used SecureView for its vacant police headquarters, firehouses and schools as they are decommissioned.
SecureView is available in three different sizes and can be cut to fit custom openings. Because the company has a nationwide footprint, most orders can be delivered within 24 hours. SecureView has certified, local installers that can install each window in about 15 minutes.
The product doesn’t rot, warp, mold or burn as plywood can, and it’s reusable. In the long run it proves to be much more affordable than replacing plywood, O’Brien said. It secures property from the inside, using a compression bolt system that does not damage the interior. In case of an emergency, those inside can get out, an important advantage over plywood.
The company recently released a new security door that offers the same benefits as the window product, and supports the appearance of occupancy.
“It’s our mission to benefit both lenders and communities by increasing the marketability of a property while simultaneously fighting community blight and securing the asset long term,” O’Brien said.