As the demand for self-storage grows, so does the number of buildings popping up that often look like a general variation of the same design plan, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to build something that uniquely stands out.
We sat down with Ryan Lorenzini, Director at the Claremont Companies, and Larry Damato, founder and proprietor of DAI General Contracting, to discuss the design and construction process of Storelocal Hercules, a state-of-the-art self storage facility that is impossible to miss with its curved steel roof as it sits atop a slope in Hercules, California.
Building to Stand Out
When setting out on a new construction project, The Claremont Companies works hard to put together the best possible team to accomplish their goal of building something very distinctive and unique in the marketplace. Part of this process includes conducting market studies to understand what customers want in terms of supply and demand. The team analyzed the results to determine what the market was lacking, and a master plan for the Storelocal Hercules facility was created according to the community’s needs.
Working with three and a half acres, The Claremont Companies knew they needed to maximize space on the site. The most efficient way to do this was with a multi-story building. They would be able to fit more rentable square feet in a smaller area, as well as boast more secure units to renters.
However, while multi-story units are popular, The Claremont Companies were also aware that people in the market still really appreciate the convenience of drive-up units, so they made sure to include single story drive-ups while designing the property. Overall, Storelocal Hercules consists of three single-story storage buildings, a three-story storage building, and a leasing office. In all, it has 794 units, comprising a total of 98,298 rentable square feet.
It would have been impossible to achieve such a successful construction project without the team the Claremont Companies put together. To achieve Storelocal Hercules unique design, The Claremont Companies hired Valli Architectural Group, along with DAI General Contracting and engineering and metal building provider, MakoRabco. The team spent four months prior to beginning construction working through the project plans to identify possible challenges before they had a chance to surface.
The result of all this planning was exactly what The Claremont Companies goal was going into building Storelocal Hercules–a distinct building that brought the best possible customer experience. “It stands up really proud,” Damato said, “If you are anywhere in the city, it’s viewable from almost any angle. The curved roof is not easy to build, but it gives the project an identity.”
The Advantages of Smart Building Technology
In addition to their bold architectural goals, The Claremont Companies wanted Storelocal Hercules to be one of the most technologically advanced facilities in the market. To achieve this, they worked with Hummingbird by Tenant Inc. Hummingbird’s self storage software allows tenants to go through the entire move-in process on their smartphones. New customers can do everything from verifying their identity to signing their rental agreements with this software. And once they have completed the process, they can even gain access to the facility through Noke–Smart Entry, a smart lock hardware where your phone is the key. “Something like 10% of our rentals have been after office hours, people moving in on their own,” Lorenzini said, “So it’s really working.” A state-of-the-art camera system also offers peace of mind for renters that their belongings are safe.
“I don’t know if there’s a more efficient building in California running that system right now, “Damato said. The advanced systems allow Storelocal Hercules to charge premium prices, counteracting the cost of installing the technology during construction.
Lessons Learned: Storelocal Hercules
A large part of a successful project is the design and construction process. Oftentimes, this means finding strong partnerships that can work to develop something great. “If you want to have a product that is distinctive and that differentiates itself in the market, you need to have the right team,” Lorenzini said, “For us, building self storage, partnering with DAI Contracting and MakoRabco… That was huge and without partners like that, I don’t think we could have been as successful as we were.”
Getting a project out of the ground is a challenging effort and having a team behind you that can bring a variety of knowledge to the project is extremely beneficial. Damato agreed with Lorenzini. “Keyword right there too is partner,” Damato said, “It was more of a partnership than a project…You know what you know, and if you think that’s all there is, then you’re wrong.” Everyone has experience in different areas and bringing together such an expert team creates an atmosphere where everyone on the project can lean on and learn from each other.
Now, Lorenzini couldn’t be prouder of the project, which was met by the community with a great deal of acceptance. “The biggest affirmation is when I see our customers and how happy they are,” Lorenzini said. The team’s aim was to build something outstanding and distinctive, and the combination of the fantastic design, the general contracting, and the technology, all came together to help accomplish just that.