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Self-Storage Conversion Projects: Considerations for Site Assessment and Design

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By Leeann Fleming

Have you ever driven by a rundown building and thought it had the potential to be a great self-storage facility? Or maybe you’ve noticed an empty retail space in a high-traffic area and wondered if it could be transformed into a beautiful storage site.

Due to land constraints in many communities, it’s become increasingly popular for self-storage developers and owners to convert vacant buildings to their desired use. If demand and economic conditions are appropriate in a particular market, the conversion of an existing building can be the right solution for someone who’s looking to build his next storage project.

Location is always an important factor for a successful self-storage development, and many vacant structures are in infill areas on the cusp of transformation. These former retail, industrial and warehouse buildings often have adequate traffic counts, exposure along highways or main streets, and favorable demographics. If you’re considering a conversion project, here’s advice on assessing potential sites and designing the facility for success.

Site Assessment

Once you’ve decided to move forward with a conversion rather than build a new facility, it’s critical to conduct a feasibility study to determine if this type of development is applicable to and appropriate for the market and existing structure. The common denominators for a successful development are local analysis and rational decision-making, which hinges on the recognition of market conditions. You also need to carefully asses the condition of the building in question and confirm the location is strong in current and future demographics.

The feasibility study should determine if a conversion to storage makes financial sense or warrants additional due diligence. This type of project often costs less than ground-up development because many of the structural necessities, such as elevators, HVAC systems, lighting and sprinkler systems, are already in place.

While the process will vary by project, most conversions take about four to six months. This is usually a shorter time period than that of new construction because much of the infrastructure already exists.

Facility Design

Design is usually the one of the most exhilarating parts of the conversion process. It offers you the opportunity to move your vision to reality—your space, your style. It’s imperative to build a safe and secure facility that’s welcoming, clean and comforting. Perception, first impressions and convenience are also important aspects, as self-storage is now seen as a retail service.

Self-Storage Conversion Project by Janus International***

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