Phoenix-based U-Haul International Inc. is converting a former laser-tag arena and arcade in North Smithfield, R.I., to self-storage. U-Haul of North Smithfield at 408 Eddie Dowling Highway officially opened in August 2014 with a temporary showroom. It currently offers hitch installation and towing equipment, moving and packing supplies, propane sales, and truck and trailer rentals, according to a company press release.
Renovations are underway to add 667 climate-controlled storage units. The first phase, which includes 88 units, is expected to be complete in this summer. U-Box portable storage as well as a warehouse to house the containers will also be built.
"This is our first adaptive-reuse project since I became the marketing company president here," said Sandra Gardner, president of the U-Haul Co. of Rhode Island. "This store will be operated by people who are part of this community. We take great pride in our communities and will offer superior convenience and low costs."
The facility currently employs six people; however, the staff will likely be doubled following the addition of more U-Haul products and services, the release stated.
"I'm really excited to open a store in this area," said Tom Sullivan, general manager. "The closest one is in Cumberland, and there are only a couple of U-Haul neighborhood dealers here in North Smithfield. We are excited to meet the needs of these neighborhoods. People come in every day asking when our storage will be open."
Established in 1945, U-Haul has more than 44 million square feet of storage space at more than 1,200 owned facilities throughout North America. The company’s corporate sustainability initiatives, which support infill development to help local communities lower their carbon footprint, has led to dozens of conversion projects in recent years.