Tricky Business: Self-Storage Site Layout

George Gray Comments
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Plan to maximize the natural visibility of your site. Carefully consider how big and where to place your signage. Use the best visual exposure point to your advantage. Sign advertising and your curb exposure is virtually free. Where is your best exposure? Does your lot back on a road or highway? Does the lot corner on two main roads? Use the free advertising from signage and road exposure to fill your buildings quicker, but remember to consult local bylaws to determine if there are limitations on how much square footage of signage face is allotted according to the size of your building or lot.

If your building code allows, build perimeter buildings to maximize the site. This design may also eliminate fences and add firewalls. The site may require you to set the buildings back from the lot lines to eliminate firewalls and add fences.

Maximize Every Foot

The use of single-story larger buildings or multi-story buildings with interior hallways can eliminate driveways on your site and create more rental footage. Buildings can be 10 feet to more than 200 feet wide, but keep in mind most of your customers will prefer the drive-up units so don’t over do it.

To minimize the damage to your buildings put large units around good access and turning points or on fire routes, and use protective bollards at every corner of every building about 16 inches from the building. The cost to install four bollards will be the same as replacing one corner of a structure.

The entrance and security gate should be a drive-in and drive-out system. Offer a bigger entrance than required to make your customers feel comfortable at the gate. If your site has an office, make sure your clients can access it from outside the gate and add parking for office visitors.

Every site contains a different unit mix and should be researched to suit your marketplace demographics. Keep in mind, 20-foot to 40-foot buildings can give you more versatile options over time by allowing you to remove and install walls at 5-foot increments to make different size units whenever you may need to. An example unit mix is 15 percent 5-by-10, 30 percent 10-by-10, 25 percent 10-by-15, 20 percent 10-by-20, and 10 percent 10-by-25.

The Conversion Option 

There have been many changes in self-storage design in the last few years. Many more two- and three-story sites are developing in city areas. Single-story drive-ups with 20-by-20 units and larger mini workshops with heat, hydro and phone lines are now available.

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