December 1, 2003

2 Min Read
In the Valli

Self-storage developers who want to build in the best possible locations are increasingly limited by a shortage of sites in the most desirable populated areas. Available land parcels are usually small, often irregular in shape and always very expensive. These obstacles to development must be overcome to successfully complete a self-storage project in an upscale urban environment. To meet the huge demand for storage space in these areas, developers are turning to architects to design bigger, attractive projects on smaller sites.

So what do these projects look like? How do they work? How do they comply with stringent zoning codes and technically demanding building codes? Why are they successful?

Before taking a look at specific sites, its helpful to summarize the common physical characteristics of these types of projects:

  • Small sitesUsually 1 to 1.5 acres, but sometimes as small as one-half acre.

  • Multilevel designUsually three or four levels above ground, often with basements and, in rare cases, two basement levels.

  • Large floor areas60,000- to 90,000-square-foot buildings are common.

  • Large site coverage by buildingsBuilding coverage of 40 percent to 60 percent is common.

  • Large floor-area ratiosThe relationship between the size of a buildings area and the size of the site is known as the floor-area ratio. The higher the floor-area ratio, the denser the development. Common floor ratios are 1.0 to 2.0 or more on these types of projects.

  • Building heightThree- and four-story structures are 35 to 45 feet high and often contain decorative design towers that reach heights of 50 feet or more.

  • Limited parking/loading areaThe large building coverage leaves less than half the site available for driveways, parking, loading zones and landscaping. Maximum efficiency of on-site vehicular circulation is an absolute necessity.

  • AestheticsQuality aesthetic design is of prime importance in oversized buildings in highly visible retail/commercial areas. Static box-like design is not acceptable in any sophisticated urban community.


Each project has been successfully guided through the process of:

  • Design drawings

  • Governmental land-use approval

  • Construction drawings

  • Governmental-building permit approval

  • Construction

This process often takes up to two years due to complexities of obtaining approvals and building in dense urban environments.

These projects have reached ar are reaching occupancies well ahead of projections at lease rates that are the highest in the industry. The bottom line is these facilities provide the customer what he wants: convenient location, easy access, security and quality appearance inside and out. For those developers and operaters who have the patience and knowledge, the returns are worth the effort. For more information, call 949.349.1777.

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