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Facility-Renovation Spotlight: AAAA Self Storage of Norfolk, Va., and its 100-Year-Old Building

Chris Nason and Chris Elam Comments

More than 100 years ago, a tobacco warehouse was built at the corner of 22nd Street and Granby Street in Norfolk, Va. Now the building is home to a thriving self-storage facility, AAAA Self Storage. The story of this transition embodies an emerging trend in saturated self-storage markets. Well-located facilities in dire need of renovation can undergo restoration to become valuable opportunities for new businesses. Leaders in the self-storage community believe the future will see more of this type of project.

The transformation of the 22nd Street building began in 1985 when the dilapidated structure was converted into Norfolk’s first multi-story self-storage facility. The original structure was retained and updated to current building codes. This involved adding stairs, elevators, air-conditioning and sprinklers.

In time, new phases were developed as the need for self-storage grew. In 2006, self-storage architects GMF + Associates were hired by the owner to give the existing building a facelift so it could better compete with a new rival across the street.

In a competitive environment where rental rates may be dropping, a renovated building may staunch the dip in rates or even allow for an increase. For existing tenants, a renovation might prompt a unit upgrade to meet previously unknown needs, such as climate control.

Left photo: AAAA Self Storage before the renovation.

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