Self-Storage and the City: Gotham Mini Storage Conversion Project Takes Manhattan by Storm

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In the immediate half mile surrounding the facility, thousands of apartments in high-rise buildings have been built in just the last few years. The tenants have no basements, attics or garages, and they are largely affluent—all factors that drive storage demand. The average square feet of storage per capita in the United States is approximately seven. In Manhattan, it’s less than one. With odds like those, how could a storage facility miss?

Economics

New York has the most competitive real estate market in the country. With land and building prices hitting new highs, there's been a mad dash to acquire buildable land, which soars above $800 per square foot in prime areas. In fact, upscale apartments are recorded as high as $10,000 per square foot. One acre in the vicinity of Gotham Mini Storage is for sale at $58 million.

In that light, Gotham's developers had to strike a creative deal to make the numbers work. Luckily, Guttman and Schwartz have been in the self-storage business for many years and had a strong idea of how to create an economic structure that would lead to profitability. The icing on the cake: The deal was devised to enable a breakeven after only six months of operation.

What’s Old is New Again

The entry to Gotham Mini Storage, which is on 10th Ave.Gotham Mini Storage was converted from an existing industrial building built in the 1920s as a parking garage. Both the interior and exterior underwent a major gut renovation to meet modern standards.

The columns and beams had been haphazardly repaired over the decades, and various shades of concrete patching scattered around the structural members of the building gave it a splotchy appearance. As a remedy, the developers wrapped the building in mesh with a mortar compound and coated it with several layers of weatherproof primer and paint to give it a smooth, uniform finish. Old windows were replaced with large, energy-efficient glazing, which allows people to see the storage doors inside. No one would ever know the building is more than 90 years old.

While installing the doors and hallways, building-components manufacturer Janus International encountered some out-of-the-ordinary procedures. Gotham Mini Storage is in the same building with express and logistics company DHL, which has a contract with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. "Our entire crew had to achieve security clearance," says Pat Nesbitt technical sales manager for Janus.

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