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Upgrading an Aging Self-Storage Facility: Options for Increasing Site Value and Marketability

Devan Williams Comments
Continued from page 1

Give It a Facelift

A facility facelift can dramatically increase traffic and public opinion. Some entrances and façades look rundown, driving the public perception that the structures are unsafe and undesirable. Revamping the façade, entrance, security gate, parking, landscaping, signage and office can rejuvenate a facility, and potentially lead to increased occupancy, rental rates and value. Some ideas include:

  • Add storefront windows with faux doors along the frontage road (be sure to consult a structural engineer)
  • Refurbish the office with new flooring, millwork and displays
  • Refinish the façade with new stucco or metal panels
  • Replace existing storage doors that are broken, faded or weathered 

Change the Use

Some older facilities were built as mixed-use projects, with office-warehouse suites or retail as the primary use and storage in the back of the lot as an afterthought. It may be worth a review of the rents garnered from the non-storage uses vs. the benefit of expanded self-storage use. It may be better to change the primary use of the property to self-storage.

At this stage, it likely would be worthwhile to convert to storage units. Many buildings are already built for climate control, eliminating one step along the way. The demolition can be a bit messy, depending on the age of the building, but to get a building back to profitability it can be well worth the cost. A structural engineer should be consulted concerning the structure of the building.
Add Security

As the self-storage industry has evolved, so has the security systems that keep tenants’ goods safe. Security was almost never included on older facilities and is still lacking in many of them. The perception of a facility with no security is that it is an unsafe one, one where tenants’ belongings may be stolen or damaged. Personal safety is also a significant concern.

Adding security can go a long way toward bringing a facility up to date and attracting more tenants to store in the facility at higher rents. There are many options to increase security including video cameras, digital video recorders, unit alarms, keypad-controlled access, lighting and perimeter fencing. A good combination can be cost-effective and efficient while providing the desired marketing results.
Think Eco-Friendly

Green building concepts have been gaining popularity, and though slower to be applied in storage facilities, they have become more prevalent. Placing solar panels on storage facilities makes a lot of sense for several reasons, including the massive areas of unused roof space and new tax incentives for solar-power systems. Plus, in some cities and states, if a surplus of energy is created, the power company will buy the excess power created by the panels or credit against hours of usage.

Other ways to make a facility “green” include water-harvesting systems for landscape water use, replacing plumbing fixtures with those that are low-water-use, installing low-energy-use light fixtures, etc. Along with the future cost savings of installing efficient equipment is the marketing influence eco-friendly efforts can have on potential customers.

There are many ways an aging facility can be enhanced to increase its profitability and value. Through use of market studies, analysis of individual facilities, and cost/benefit comparisons, the most beneficial renovations and upgrades can be chosen to bring your facility current and help it perform optimally.
Devan Williams has been with TLW Construction Inc. since 2006, working in all aspects of the business. Based in Gilbert, Ariz., TLW is a self-storage general contractor providing construction services throughout the southwestern United States. The company has 27 years of experience ranging through all storage types. For more information, call 480.332.8339; e-mail; visit

Related Articles:

Self-Storage Revival, A Case Study: Florida Facility Makes a Comeback After Years of Neglect

The Impact of Facility Image: Self-Storage Curb Appeal and Refurbishing

The Math Behind the Self-Storage Makeover

Self-Storage Talk: Major Office Rehab

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