To say the development of the Thornwood Self Storage Center in Thornwood, N.Y., was a challenge is an understatement of lofty proportions. In fact, the project unrolled as a series of challenges that tested the ingenuity of everyone involved: owners, engineering consultants, construction crews, security specialists, building manufacturer and the local community.
The first major hurdle was converting the existing building into self-storage. Generally, new construction is less complicated than a conversion, and typically doesn’t present the structural problems developers sometimes face with existing buildings. Real estate developers Dan Kasman and Michael Gyory chose to convert a two-story downtown building that formerly housed a health club.
Situated on sloping terrain, the structure had an entrance on the top level and a second floor partially below grade. Its floors offered extraordinary floor-to-ceiling height, and the new owners wanted to replace them with three floors of leasable self-storage space. They removed the two existing floors, reinforced the building with large steel pylons, and created three new levels within the existing building envelope. All floors are accessible by two high-capacity elevators.
Once the structural renovation was complete, BETCO Inc., a self-storage building manufacturer, installed the door and hallway system. The company’s timing had to coincide with the existing structural changes and the subcontractors’ schedules so as not to delay overall progress of the project.
BETCO’s certified construction crew had to perform field modifications, which meant custom-fitting some interior materials to the building to maximize available space. In addition, site work in and around the building often diminished available space for door and hallway materials delivery.
The Facility Goes Green
Part of the owners’ vision for the Thornwood project was a modern facility with environmentally friendly features ranging from rooftop solar panels to an energy-saving, motion-sensored lighting system. Both owners are committed to the health and improvement of the environment. In fact, they engaged the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to facilitate the energy-efficient development of the building in accordance with its guidelines.
“We wanted Thornwood Self Storage Center to reflect our long-term and deep commitment to the local community and to energy conservation,” Kasman says. “The opportunity to address growing consumer demand for eco-friendly services is extremely rewarding.”
During the conversion process, 95 percent of the building’s structure was reused, and construction debris was recycled and reclaimed to reduce the impact on local landfills. Converting the building to self-storage also reduces traffic congestion and auto emissions by more than 80 percent.
The facility offers packing and moving supplies that include recyclable and biodegradable materials. It also uses only environmentally friendly cleaning products. Local vegetation was planted around the facility to eliminate the need for an underground irrigation system.
“These green practices help to dramatically decrease energy consumption, save natural resources, and provide a better experience for customers and employees, at no additional cost,” Gyory says.
The new facility also has several outreach-based initiatives and partnerships with environmental organizations in development. “We feel it’s important to raise awareness of good environmental practices among members of our local community,” Gyory says.
The 48,000-square-foot building offers a total of 35,563 square feet of rentable space and 361 climate-controlled units, with energy-efficient heating and cooling systems. Individual units range in size from 5-by-5 to 22-by-20.
The center also features a high-tech security system, onsite power backup and an aerodynamically-designed, dual-alternative fuel truck available for public rental. Onsite customer service is another hallmark initiative of the owners, which includes being open seven days a week.
The developers of Thornwood Self Storage Center are an outstanding example of those who are sensitive to the environment and the community. The key was for them to surround themselves with suppliers who could support of their vision of how responsible business owners should behave in the 21st century.
Terry Campbell is the vice president of sales and marketing for BETCO Inc., a single-source manufacturer of self-storage metal buildings, doors and hallway systems. To reach him, call 800.654.7813; visit www.betcoinc.com.
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