I recently returned from a positively awesome trip down to Supai, the Havasupai Indian Reservation located just southwest of the Grand Canyon. It's an eight-mile hike down to the village from Hualapai Hilltop, and another two miles down to the sacred Havasu Falls, an oasis of aquamarine water and limestone pools--truly one of the most extraordinary excursions I've ever taken.
In August of 1997, these "people of the blue-green waters" suffered flash flooding so devastating that more than 350 residents and about 300 tourists had to be ferried out of the village, mostly by helicopter. Debris driven by the flood smashed sewer and water lines, damaging buildings, paths and bridges. This was the third such flood the reservation had withstood in one decade. And not only did the Havasupai face the challenge of rebuilding what was lost, they had to address the problem of what to do with the wreckage. Talk about starting from square one.
When you talk about development and site selection for self-storage, you're certainly not talking about the resuscitation of a complete ecosystem. But you are talking about planning. In today's development climate, it is more critical than ever to execute the appropriate research when selecting a facility site and design. You need to think about environmental issues, permits and zoning, topography, street access, driveways, traffic. You also need to consider studies conducted by market-research experts on the viability of your proposed location, as well as the sentiments of the local government toward self-storage. All of these elements tie into a facility's success.
This issue's focus on site selection and development begins on page 18 with Harold Leslie's suggestions for "Getting Started" on a new self-storage business. From there, Kenneth Carrell discusses maximizing the potential of your self-storage site and Jamie Lindau highlights some common development pitfalls to avoid. Finally, Jeff Kinder offers a unique perspective on the plausibility of development in a foreign market: Canada. While international outlets become increasingly popular among the more ambitious and daring developers in this industry, differences in procedure, financing and government should be considered before heading for the border.
The plot for self-storage success is fairly sophisticated for what the uninitiated would probably consider some pretty unsophisticated buildings; however, without research and planning, you're not just at square one, you're more like a square behind. The residents of Supai Village managed to restore their community, but they also incorporated some elements of prevention in anticipation of future disasters. Have some foresight. Be prepared. You offer your tenants a haven of sorts, too. Insure it with the proper planning and practices.
Teri L. Lanza
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