The dumpster was relocated from the front of the property to a newly constructed pad behind the gate, away from direct line-of-sight to the street. The result eliminated dumping in and around the dumpster because it’s now in a secured part of the property behind perimeter fencing.
Certain code compliances also needed to be met. The new counter in the retail office had to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, as did the public restroom.
Lack of solid security was one of the facility’s biggest problems. A fully automated sliding gate with tie-in to the access-control system was added, as was a video-surveillance system with 16 cameras, a digital video recorder, and a large-screen monitor with Internet-viewing capability. A privacy fence made of recycled plastic material that resembles wood but is more durable and requires less maintenance was installed in front of the manager residence.
Finally, a new pylon sign, building signs and retail-style awning were erected over the rental office—all with SmartStop branding.
In addition to bringing the facility up to code and adding customer appeal, Strategic Storage Trust also used the renovation opportunity to introduce several green initiatives.
The exterior lighting was upgraded to state-of-the-art LED lighting engines, bringing a bright daylight illumination. Not only does the new lighting make the facility stand out at night, it adds security. These fixtures use 70 percent less energy than standard mercury vapor bulbs (the ones that glow orange), brightness is increased by 100 percent, and replacement is reduced significantly because the unit is all solid state. The light comes from a LED diode and is guaranteed for 10 years versus the bulbs, ballasts and connectors in standard fixtures, which typically don’t last more than two years.
In addition, the facility features T-5 fluorescent bulbs, an Energy-Star surveillance system, and a new white-reflective roofing, which reduces heat from the sun penetrating the building and the facility’s air-condition consumption—a bonus during the hot Phoenix summers.
Strategic Storage Trust also used recycled or renewable materials in the renovation wherever possible. This included the privacy fence around the manager apartment, and the gate and fence for the access-security system, which was made of recycled aluminum.
The apartment and facility restroom also feature a tankless water-heater system, which reduces energy usage to heat water by 40 percent. The fixtures in the restroom include a low-volume flush toilet and motion-sensor faucet.
Attracting New Tenants
Community marketing was deemed the best avenue to relay the facility’s improvements. The facility donates any abandoned clothing and household goods to the nearby St. Joseph’s Hospital. “This has given us exposure to the community and some new rentals,” Cerrone says. The facility is also participating in community events such as the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and local health fairs. In addition, fliers are being distributed with local businesses, and at apartment communities and residential neighborhoods.
“The location is the first wave of revitalization in this neighborhood and has been welcomed by the locals surrounding this property,” Cerrone says. “It is a residential managed property, as our lead associate lives on site and is from the neighborhood.”
Strategic Storage Trust also hopes adding covered RV- and boat-storage parking will attract new customers. The expansion of the undeveloped land to the rear of the property is being reviewed by the city’s zoning department.
There are also plans for additional branding and imaging on the three-story building to include a blue band at the top and “dummy” storage doors on the face of the building. “It’s still a relatively non-descript building, and this would better identify it as a self-storage property,” Cerrone says.
The renovations are already paying off. Facility occupancy is the highest it’s been in 17 months, and rental units are up 22 units for the first quarter of 2011 compared to the last two years. “In addition to the improved moral for the onsite staff, we’ve received favorable reception from the local community and the city,” Cerrone says. “Curb appeal and drive-by is very clean, updated and inviting. The property is now modern looking and has the appearance of improved security and care for the area, property and our tenants’ goods.”