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Choosing the Right Site for a Self-Storage New Build, Conversion or Mixed-Use Project

By Steve Hajewski Comments

If you’ve researched supply and demand and know a certain community has a need for an additional self-storage facility, the next challenge is to pick a location. Deciding on a site for a new storage project is one of the most important decisions you’ll make during the development process.

Many developers focus on one location, and that in itself can be a mistake. If a deal falls apart, they’re back to square one. Instead, looking at multiple sites or even several communities will not only help you move ahead with the best possible project, it can give you a “plan B.”

Whether you’re considering a new build, a self-storage conversion or a mixed-use project, here are some important considerations to keep in mind when choosing potential sites.

New Build

Here are some things to consider if you’re seeking a site for new construction. In addition to the major factors, you need to understand what other limitations or expenses are associated with the land, such as storm-water management, easements, site prep and soil quality, and others.

Regency Safe Storage in Roy, Utah, was built with a three-story tower to address poor visibility of the actual units on the property. The tower features false doors behind the windows.Visibility. Ideally, the self-storage doors should be highly visible. Your greatest source of business is usually drive-by traffic. In some areas, you can use height to overcome poor visibility. A corner tower that features signage or displays doors through large windows—normally false ones for show—can serve as a beacon to draw clients to your business.

Accessibility. A site with good visibility is not always readily accessible. Poor accessibility is a problem if there are competing sites with good access (and vacancy), but don’t rule this site out.

Proximity to population. The closer the site is to a populated area, the better. A facility close to a dense population can do very well even with poor physical visibility or access, as long as it has good visibility on the Internet. In established areas, you can safely pick this type of location if you’re closer to the population than other competitors and there’s no other land that’s more visible.

Trindle Self Storage in Carlisle, Pa., takes advantage of the site’s elevation change with a two-story structure built into the side of a hill. The facility also includes a UPS Store.Topography. A flat, level site is the easiest on which to build, however, don’t overlook sites with elevation changes that could facilitate the construction of a two-story structure built into the side of a hill. When both levels of the building can be entered at grade level, you double your rentable square footage and increase your ratio of rentable space to pavement.

Parcel shape. A rectangular parcel is ideal, but one of the great things about self-storage is you can adapt to odd-sized parcels that might not be useful for other purposes. The ideal location allows for buildings running north to south to facilitate ice melting, as the sun hits both sides of each building over the course of the day. For greater security, a layout where you can see between the buildings from the main road is preferable.

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