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Facility-Design Case Study: Steam Pump Self Storage in Oro Valley, AZ

TAGS: Development
Steam Pump Self Storage in Oro Valley, Ariz.
When developing new self-storage projects, 1784 Capital Holdings LLC intentionally focuses on areas where barriers to entry are high, seeking to create class-A facilities in targeted markets. Here’s an overview of the company’s design approach to Steam Pump Self Storage in Oro Valley, Ariz.

Our company thrives on challenge. As we add to our self-storage portfolio throughout the United States, 1784 Capital Holdings LLC intentionally focuses on markets where the barriers to entry are high. We look for communities that mirror our design standards, and our team willingly works through complicated entitlement issues to further our mission of creating exceptional self-storage in targeted markets.

Take, for example, the recent approval and groundbreaking of Steam Pump Self Storage in Oro Valley, Ariz., near Tucson. The city’s thoughtful development policies and its dedication to community integrity fit perfectly with our objectives.

We first identified the site in 2016 after our feasibility study indicated a significant unmet demand for self-storage services in this growing, affluent area. The parcel is part of a neighborhood retail center developed by Evergreen Development and Diamond Ventures, located within the master-planned community of Steam Pump Ranch. Created in 2006, Steam Pump Village is a 40-acre development that includes a bank, hotel, convenience store and even a charter school. Because of the traffic and parking issues that come with tenants like these, the site we chose (directly behind a QuikTrip) was difficult for the land owner to sell.

As we moved forward with the purchase, our biggest obstacle soon became clear: The Planned Area Development (PAD) document specifically prohibited mini-storage within the community. Knowing the prevailing image of storage facilities is that of industrial, single-story, metal buildings, our team, led by executive vice president of real estate Kelly McKone, set out to educate the Oro Valley municipal team and potential neighbors about this class-A, state-of-the-art project.

Our approach embraces honesty and cooperation with all parties involved in prospective sites. To that end, we worked closely with our zoning attorney, Keri Lazarus Silvyn, and the municipality’s knowledgeable team of experts—a group of public professionals who embraced the idea of creating a project that complements the neighborhood while serving an unmet need in the community.

Design Flexibility and Excellence

Our goal is to have people enter our facilities and be surprised by how much they exceed expectations in terms of quality, cleanliness and amenities. The Steam Pump property more than meets that objective, with a building that fits seamlessly into its surroundings, calling to mind an upscale office building or multi-story retail project.

The design, overseen by RKAA Architects Inc. of Phoenix, is completely customized to the site. During our neighborhood meetings and conferences with planning officials, our team was careful to listen to any concerns and suggestions offered. While we like to work with a standard core design, we accommodated a wide range of changes to meet some very specific community needs.

For example, the project is adjacent to the River Path recreation trail, and residents using that trail didn’t want their views obstructed by a commercial project. Because the path is slightly elevated, we designed extra landscaping and a screen wall to buffer the trail from the rear of our building. The property will have no exterior storage, and the loading area will be restricted to the rear of the building, out of sight.

The Holiday Inn Express next door was concerned that any lighted signage would create a disturbance to hotel guests, so we agreed to post signs only on the east side of our building, facing Oracle Road, a major thoroughfare. McKone was able to get approval for a mixed-use structure, and we integrated 3,800 square feet of ground-floor retail and our operational office into the design.

In addition to these accommodations, our architect creatively addressed the neighbors’ façade concerns by designing a building without any flat exteriors. Instead, it features specially designed inlets, windows and faux windows that mimic an office structure. The roof line is pitched, and a shaded walkway will be constructed around the entire building. The design of the entire exterior blends seamlessly into the Steam Pump Ranch community, featuring a Southwestern ambience with colors that blend with the surrounding structures.

A Community Partner

After working with stakeholders for nearly a year, our plan was unanimously approved by the planning and zoning committee and the city council. But our work certainly doesn’t stop there. We remain true to our commitment as a community partner, serving the existing need for self-storage while developing a facility that will complement its environs.

Customers will experience the renaissance of our industry, enjoying a special play zone for children, a refreshment area with drinks and snacks, and even a conference room for their use. The floors will sparkle with a unique diamond-polish finish, and the management staff—provided by self-storage real estate investment trust and property-management firm Life Storage Inc.—will provide unsurpassed customer service. We broke ground on the project in February, and construction is being overseen by Tarik Williams of TLW Construction Inc.

Steam Pump is just one example of our commitment to bringing class-A self-storage to markets with high barriers to entry throughout the United States. Our portfolio includes properties along the East Coast, from Long Island, N.Y., to Washington, D.C., to sites throughout California and the most affluent markets of Arizona. We have no geographic limitations.

Under McKone’s guidance, we’re willing to pursue an extended zoning and entitlement process to develop value and opportunities in these municipalities. With more than $250 million in capital already committed to our ongoing projects, we’re poised to double that pledge during the next 18 months as we continue moving self-storage toward its state-of-the-art future.

Shane C. Albers is the founder, CEO and manager of 1784 Capital Holdings LLC, which develops, builds, leases, owns and ultimately sells self-storage facilities. Albers allocates capital for the company and strategically oversees the investment activities of acquisition, development and disposition. He’s led the company’s self-storage portfolio growth as well as that of its subsidiary, 1784 Solar LLC. For more information, visit

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