Para Guardar, a self-storage operator in Manaus, Brazil, recently opened its first facility in a converted industrial building on one of the busiest thoroughfares leading from Manaus International Airport into downtown. The facility is the first of its kind in the city and is modeled after U.S. self-storage operations, according to David Blum, president of Better Management Systems LLC (BMS), a self-storage consulting firm that assisted on the project.
The facility began as two separate buildings with around 4,000 square meters of floor area. Mezzanines were added in both buildings, and the structures have the capacity to grow to more than 7,000 square meters of rentable space, Blum said. Plenty of available land on the property could also accommodate further expansion, he said.
The facility features a remodeled office area, keypad-controlled security gate, video cameras and the largest billboard in Manaus, Blum said.
Jose Benchimol, Para Guardar’s owner and developer, said he chose to enter the self-storage market “because it offers the excitement of retail and the stability of a real estate business. It’s very risky to be the first one in the market; however, building a self-storage [facility] has been a fun, yet expensive, experience."
Manaus has a population of more than 2 million and serves as a distribution hub to central Brazil. Several foreign corporations have assembly plants in the city, which also boasts an active port, Blum said. Brazil, in general, is an emerging self-storage market, with developments popping up in major city centers like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, as well as secondary markets like Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Curitiba and Porto Alegre, he said.
“Every week I get calls from interested parties inquiring about one or another market and what the business is like in Brazil,” Blum said. “The whole Latin American market seems to be on fire.”
BMS has consulted first-time self-storage investors and developers for more than 10 years, working on projects throughout Europe, the Middle East, Central America and South America. Founded in 2003, the company assists with feasibility, development and management.