Rap star Eminem immortalized 8 Mile Road in a song and movie about life on this street that divides the Detroit area’s suburban and urban populations. The road is also home to National Mini Storage of Southfield, Mich., which is doing its part to help revitalize the historic thoroughfare as a vibrant business destination.
Last year, National won its fourth Beautification Award since 2000 from the Eight Mile Boulevard Association, a nonprofit promoting the transportation, business and residential corridor. The association considered more than 1,900 properties for the award, which recognizes businesses for enhancing the appearance of their properties.
Pogoda Management Co. built National Mini Storage in 1999 and still owns and manages the two-story facility. Owner Maurice Pogoda says when he decided to buy the 2.5-acre site, he was concerned about the area’s rough-and-tumble reputation. But market analysis indicated the location could be a windfall with its suburban and commercial proximity. Plus the lot afforded generous frontage along 8 Mile Road, a six-lane highway traversed by more than 64,000 automobiles daily.
“In 1999, it was the first new multistory project built in the state of Michigan,” Pogoda says. “Today there are tons, but ours was the first. Putting in this brand-new, beautiful project really served as a lynchpin to spur development on a relatively blighted area of 8 Mile Road. I knew this wasn’t a great area, but I thought, ‘If we can pull this off, it’s going to help attract new business.’”
Pogoda appears to have been right, much to the delight of city of Southfield officials. In the self-storage sector alone, six competitors have set up shop within a 3-mile radius since National opened its doors.
Pretty Is as Pretty Does
Since day one, Pogoda Management ensured its flagship facility would embody the words “clean” and “attractive.” The huge building, painted a crisp gray-white with a striking red roof, dominates its stretch of 8 Mile. “We just repainted after five years. The building didn’t need it, but we wanted to make sure it looks totally clean and spotless. That is part of our philosophy for Pogoda Management: Our ground zero is spotlessness,” says Pogoda.
A cupola shaped like the Capitol dome tops the facility and simultaneously acts as a company trademark. “It’s become a landmark, and our goal is to keep it as a beacon for people in the neighborhood,” Pogoda says. “The facility has helped grow the area, which is good for business, but it’s also good for the community—so it’s good for everybody.”
National’s pristine grounds provide eye-catching relief from many nearby industrial-looking properties. “We are constantly doing new plantings every year, doing something interesting and different with annuals,” Pogoda says. “We are very aggressive with our landscaping.”
Though the facility isn’t allowed a changeable sign in front of the property, signage may be displayed in a large plate glass window facing the street. Specials and other information are attractively presented in the window and routinely changed every two weeks. As for the loading docks, even they are designed to be visually appealing as well as utilitarian.
In addition to beautification awards, the Eight Mile Boulevard Association builds bus shelters, arranges clean-up campaigns, and raises money for landscaped medians, gardens and community signage. Pogoda supports the association’s efforts by attending fundraisers. He says National Mini Storage employees were thrilled to have won three of the last four Beautification Awards. “We promote it through our whole company to show what a great job they are doing,” he says. “It’s great for morale.” For more information, visit www.pogodaco.com or www.eightmile.org.