Self-Storage Developers Overcome Zoning/Building Challenges Through Persistence and Creativity

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By Steve Hajewski

In areas where there is unmet self-storage demand, the reason is often barriers to market entry. Perhaps land is hard to come by, too expensive or includes zoning hurdles. Sometimes it’s wise for a developer to move on to an alternate market or land acquisition. In other cases, however, success is just a matter of getting creative and being persistent. Following are stories of self-storage builders who triumphed over challenging locations.

Building Up in Des Moines

For self-storage operator and developer David Paladino, perseverance and imagination were vital to expanding his company’s portfolio. As the owner of Dino’s Storage, with 13 locations in the United States and Canada, Paladino is no stranger to self-storage construction. His facilities include multi-story and conversions as well as traditional buildings and site layouts. Dino's Storage features four stories and large windows to attract customers.

When Paladino was ready to expand in Des Moines, Iowa, he knew sufficient demand existed to warrant a large project, so he acquired a parcel of highly visible land in a high-traffic area. However, half of the parcel was incorrectly zoned, and the process of changing the zoning looked to be an exceptionally long process with no guarantees.

To accommodate the project and lot, the facility was built on the properly zoned section of the land only. But rather than go the traditional single-story route, Paladino built vertically, creating a four-story facility. The building covers as much of the parcel as allowable.

When building a project with interior access, one of the drawbacks is the doors are no longer visible from the exterior. Knowing doors are a critical identifying characteristic of self-storage facilities, Palladino added large windows to portions of the building to create visual interest while communicating the building’s function to the public.

The project’s urban location could have made it susceptible to theft, but as an experienced operator, Paladino knew the importance of an effective security system. “We’ve caught several criminals with the combination of access control and cameras,” he says. “If you break in, you’re done.”

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