Raleigh Round Storage

April 1, 2006

4 Min Read
Raleigh Round Storage

When Morningstar Properties LLC went looking to open a self-storage facility in the central business district of Raleigh, N.C., the company found its home in an unlikely placea former beer warehouse.

Once known as Harris Wholesale Distribution Center, the location was considered a prominent landmark in the capitol and fit all the criteria for self-storage. The 69,700-square-foot site was air-conditioned and included a 22-foot ceiling with a mezzanine ideal for modification to two stories. Solid, insulated metal panels made up the buildings exterior skin. As added perks, traffic studies revealed that more than 50,000 cars passed by daily, and no rezoning would be needed.

The project was deemed a good investment by the joint venture partnership of Seattle-based Shurgard Storage Centers and Morningstar Properties of Matthews, N.C. Morningstar managed the conversion and today oversees the propertys business activities. This latest acquisition brings the number of storage centers operated by the Shurgard/Morningstar partnership to 13 in the Raleigh area.

A Taste of Conversion

The partners marketing strategy was to make the facility easy to use for all types of storage customers. However, cost-effectiveness was an issue, requiring the team to utilize as many existing building components as possible.

Morningstars construction company, MSC Development Inc., acted as general manager for the conversion; Ediface Construction served as project manager; and Overcash Demmitt Architects designed the new layout.

The Harris Wholesale Distribution Center was built in the late 1980s, solidly constructed with materials capable of handling the weight requirements for self-storage. Necessary modifications included changes to an existing multiple-bay loading dock and a 32,900-square-foot drive-through. By filling in a long entrance ramp with concrete, it was possible to convert half the drive-through into storage units. The remaining driveway was retained to provide interior loading and unloading of customer goods.

About 12,000 square feet of rental offices were retained, with plans to lease the space to local businesses. Minor demolition was necessary to the buildings interior, and Morningstar chose a structural steel post and beam system by SS-20 Building System. The improvement gave the facility a full second floor, spanning the drive-through and accommodating cars and panel trucks.

Reuse, Refurbish, Install

Builders managed to recycle much of the existing HVAC, electrical, sprinklers and plumbing systems. Sprinklers were installed in the new first-floor ceiling. Two large view corridors were added to the front of the second floor, displaying unit doors to passersby and creating visual interest, night and day. Two new elevators provide access to second-floor units.

A 1,100-square-foot retail office, including Shurgards trademark 35-foottall lighthouse, was constructed and attached to the front of the building at dock height. To access the office, stairs and a ramp were installed. The office features a 24-hour video security system to digitally record building activity, with two plasma screens for viewing the property.

The facility has 540 units, ranging from 5-by-10 to 10-by-30, with customized flexible spaces available for commercial tenants. Janus International provided the interior partitions and doors. Business customers are attracted by the central location, easy access, storage docks and drive-through features. To provide adequate parking for office tenants, a railroad spur at the back of the building was filled in and paved. Fencing and a security gate were also mounted, and the site was configured to provide 20 outside parking spaces.

Unique to Market

The project was completed in April 2006, one year from the date the contract was signed, with a construction period of about five months. The facilitys drive-through and interior loading areas make it unique in Raleigh. The target market encompasses the central business district, North Carolina State University with more than 30,000 students, a dense residential base and state and local government offices.

Morningstar is the 11th-largest self-storage operator in the country, according to Inside Self-Storage. Morningstar has been in the self-storage business for 25 years, and has developed more than 50 properties in the Carolinas. Company founder Stephen Benson, regarded as an industry pioneer and self-storage innovator, serves as chairman, and his son, David Benson, as president.

Shurgard Storage Centers Inc. is a real estate investment trust headquartered in Seattle. Shurgard specializes in all aspects of the self-storage industry and operates a network of more than 644 operating storage centers throughout the United States and Europe. 

Phyllis McArthur is executive vice president of Morningstar Properties LLC, a developer of more than 60 properties in the Carolinas since 1980. For more information on Morningstar, call 704.847.0968; visit www.mstarproperties.com. To learn more about Shurgard, call 800.947.8673; visit www.shurgard.com

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