Inside Self-Storage

JUN 2019

Inside Self-Storage (ISS) is an information source for industry owners, managers, developers and investors covering news, trends, facility operation, finance, real estate, construction, development, marketing, technology, insurance and legality.

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As the great self-storage land grab continues, creative design techniques are becoming vital in strengthening an owner's or developer's bottom line. The cost of land has risen substantially, forcing him to dig deeper for value. He often must consider properties with hurdles in the form of shape, size or zoning. Our industry also facing challenging jurisdictional processes that demand outside-the-box thinking. But fear not! There's a wealth of design options to counteract these obstacles. Let's explore some of the ways to maximize a less-than-optimal land parcel. These include building multi-story, adjusting parking-space design to meet requirements without losing rentable space, finding more square footage within the structure, adding imaginative architectural elements, and optimizing the site topography. Multi-Story In an urban setting, a vertical approach to self-storage can help mitigate small land area. In many scenarios, it's possible to push building walls to the extent of setback or property lines and incorporate parking and loading at grade within the building envelope. While this forces a higher second-level finished floor, it allows lockers to be installed above standard units. Parking Areas In many jurisdictions, parking requirements aren't clearly defined for self-storage, leaving the developer to deal with the standards originally conceived for warehouse uses. I've seen ratios of as much as one space per 500 square feet of storage, which results in a sea of parking! Some developers have been successful in reducing the required parking by providing data from the Institute of Transportation Engineers to illustrate the actual parking demand for self-storage. In some instances, cities have adopted our recommended ratios for future projects. However, if your plea for a more realistic parking ratio falls on deaf ears, there are design techniques that can help accommodate stringent requirements. For example, parallel parking can be used effectively, along with one- or two-way traffic, without eating up valuable land. In some cases, traffic can be one-way with drive aisles ranging from 20 to 24 feet and parallel width running 8 to 10 feet. One-way aisles work with smaller sites that have a limited number of drive-up units, as they provide circulation to all portions of the project and clear access for the fire department. If the project is more than 30 feet tall, you'll need to provide aerial-apparatus access for the fire department. In this case, the parking along one side of the building can be perpendicular to the fa├žade. This fulfills the 15- to 30-foot clear requirement for the access road (mandatory to allow for the ladder to swing into position) and provides a large bank of parking. In the case of urban-infill sites, which have less area to forfeit, drive-in loading and parking areas can address the requirements and be used as a selling point. Drive-throughs not only provide direct access to elevators and the facility office, they're brightly lit with music circulating throughout the space. The drawback is they require additional floor height at the first level for vehicle clearance; however, this can be turned into additional rental space. More below. Floor-Area Ratio Many jurisdictions use floor-area ratio (FAR) to regulate density in a given zone. While FAR can limit a property's yield, there are design methods that can help make up for the net rentable square footage and dollars lost. For example, lockers can be successful in certain markets and are a cost-effective, creative solution for occupying extra vertical clearances while adding net rentable area and revenue. Accessed via rolling ladder, lockers are excluded from FAR and have proven profitable in dense urban markets. Another option is to include a basement, as in some jurisdictions, it's excluded from FAR calculations and can add significant area to a project. Although basements do carry some additional costs around soil export, unforeseen ground issues and waterproofing among others, they do offer upside as well. Basement temperatures stay moderate year-round and can be a natural climate-control solution without the cost of heating or cooling. When considering a basement, it's important to check with the jurisdiction to ensure it's exempt from FAR for a commercial application. Finally, many jurisdictions exclude certain other areas from FAR calculations. For example, I recently completed a project that excluded elevator shafts, mechanical rooms, stairwells and exterior-wall thickness, which resulted in the addition of approximately 6,000 square feet. On Maximizing property potential through innovation By Bruce Jordan Getting Creative With Less-Optimal Land Parcels Extra Space Storage in Rio Rancho, N.M., where ramps helped resolved uneven topography and limited the amount of soil export during grading 36 ISS I June 2019 www.insideselfstorage.com

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