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Birmingham 'Big Box' Building Converted Into iStore Self-Storage


A 54,000-square-foot Bruno’s grocery store in Birmingham, Ala., was recently converted into an iStore self-storage facility. iStore partners and retail real estate veterans Hugo Isom, Gary Pharo, Will Akin and Greg Hess are focused on creative ways to re-use obsolete “big box” buildings.

The new facility contains approximately 600 climate-controlled units and 11 enclosed parking spaces for boats or RVs. Adding a mezzanine to the interior created a second level, giving the project 73,000 square feet of rentable space. Since the sea of asphalt in front of the building would not be required for parking, the iStore developers sold a portion of the lot to Taco Bell and Bojangle’s.

Opened in February, the new iStore project includes a business center for commercial customers that includes a 60-inch color monitor, laptop-friendly work stations with free WiFi , a self-serve coffee bar, and a warming drawer for fresh=baked cookies.

The site also promotes eco-friendly choices and options for its business and customers. The facility offers recycling programs for cardboard and plastic waste. Promotional materials are printed on eco-friendly paper, recycled and bio degradable plastics, and soy-based inks when possible. Energy-saving light bulbs, appliances and HVAC systems help to control the drain on energy resources.

Facility operation is overseen by Universal Management Co. The site managers are Franz and Cindy June, who have more than 10 years of self-storage industry experience.

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