Strategically located in the heart of the award-winning master planned community of Verrado in Buckeye, Ariz., is a unique self-storage facility with a modern and innovative design tailor-made for the surrounding upscale desert community. With a prime location in the Market Place Commercial District, Dominion Self-Storage is clearly visible from Verrado’s entry and main thoroughfare as well as the nearby Interstate 10.
The property is owned by Dominion Self-Storage LLC and managed by Raymond L. Graham, Bradley Graham, and Michael Stenehjem. Construction began August 2017 and was completed in May of 2018, opening for business on May 4, 2018. Built on 1.25 acres, Dominion Self-Storage encompasses 81,618 square feet on three levels, offering 60,625 rentable square feet of storage space with 524 climate-controlled units in various sizes ranging from 5-by-5 to 10-by-30.
The facility was designed by Phil Gollon of Arc Services Inc., who was chosen for his innovative, forward-thinking work in the self-storage industry. His use of modern design materials gave the property its signature design.
“This project is a perfect example of today’s demand for the new look of self-storage,” Gallon says. “Our challenge was how to make a storage facility not look like a storage facility—in other words, make it fit aesthetically within close proximity of the communities they serve.”
Gone are the days of a sea of overhead doors, explains Gollon. “The team at DMB Associates Inc. (master plan developers of Verrado) allowed us to take it up a notch with their unique material pallet within their design guidelines. Rusted box metal ribbing, corrugated metal siding, honed concrete masonry units (CMU), and board formed concrete with multi-stained applications allowed this development to stride above today’s demand for a new look.”
Integral to the development team, 180 Self-Storage LLC (owned and operated by Tim Jones and Jeff Helgeson) managed the construction of the facility and now manage the day-to-day operations. They were selected for their vast experience in self-storage construction management and their “hometown” approach to marketing and management.
The Facility’s Modern Mission
In the past, self-storage has been “off the table” for upscale master-planned communities. Developers shied away from integrating storage into their community’s amenity package because there have been few break-throughs in design in the past 20 years, with door color being the primary brand statement. The owner’s approach to self-storage is exactly the opposite; its business model begins and ends with the unique aspects of the community. A critical component of the company’s success with this project was definitely its working relationshipwith the master developer. In order for the project to find its home inside of this upscale community, it had to be a win-win for both parties.
Dominion’s team had no preconceived ideas of what a facility should look like in Verrado. Instead, they were completely open to suggestions and ideas from their creative team. And the more creative the project evolved, the more Dominion wanted to do it. As negotiations for land moved forward, it became clear that the project needed to compliment the overall vision of Verrado and be a true asset to the residents. It came down to three key points:
The creative ability to design a structure that would complement the master plan;
The expertise and follow through to create the vision; and
The management’s service profile and ability to connect with the residents to create a great amenity for the community.
Once these were met, Dominion was given a location that was highly visible to the community traffic. More importantly, they were given assurances from Verrado that no other self-storage facility would be allowed in the community.
Genuine Small-Town Charm
Today there are approximately 3,500 homes in the community. The final buildout will include up to 14,000 residential homes on 8,800 acres with a fully developed commercial district named Verrado Marketside District. Currently, the population within the three-mile radius is approximately 24,000 people with an average household income of $80,637—perfect for self-storage.
Verrado is a fully integrated master planned community with schools, two golf courses, a fire station, health and fitness center, several restaurants, a grocery store, and more. In addition to opening the Marketside District, DMB Associates Inc. has recently opened a 55-plus community named Victory within Verrado.
Verrado Marketside District is a 140-acre commercial area located on both the east and west sides of Verrado Way between McDowell Road and fronting Interstate 10. Marketside plans call for retail anchors and shop space available for sale or lease. Future tenant uses include neighborhood goods and services, retailers, restaurants, and lifestyle and entertainment venues.
Design With A Purpose
Verrado’s master plan dictated a timeless and unique design for the facility that translated to varying textures and materials new to the industry. Dominion Self-Storage also includes features to enhance customer service such as the covered loading dock. Moreover, brand statements like windows that mirror the Dominion Self-Storage logo add to the over aesthetics and reinforce the Dominion Self-Storage brand.
Dominion Self-Storage at Verrado began with a great design. Finishing the project required experience and follow through. With the assistance of the team at 180 Self-Storage, Double AA Builders was selected to construct the facility. Double AA is widely recognized as a premier general contractor and construction management firm in the Southwest. Construction took approximately nine months and was completed on budget. There were no significant construction challenges besides rising metal prices and labor shortages due to the thriving Phoenix area economy.
Security at the facility was a number-one priority. The business operates with a Stor-Guard Security system, allowing for 24-hour monitoring. This includes motion detectors, alarms, and recorded surveillance with 20 cameras situated in different locations throughout the property. Managers and staff can monitor the property in the office from two TV screens that continually rotate to each camera location. Customers are given an individual code that allows them access to restrooms and the specific floor where their unit is located.
Further adhering to quality, the unit doors at Dominion were provided by Temple, Ga.-based Janus International, and each unit is secured by a heavy-duty cylinder lock for added protection. Each floor has natural light, as well as motion sensing corridor and unit lighting.
“Design and construction are critical to management’s success. Saving a few bucks and cutting corners creates nightmares down the way,” says Jeff Helgeson, partner at 180 Self-Storage. “Tim and Double AA did an amazing job of giving us a safe, secure, and well-built property.”
Tim Jones, managing partner at 180 Self-Storage, LLC agrees. “At the start, we had some concerns about working within the budget due to the variety of design details. However, that turned out to be fine,” he says. “The more pressing challenge was the rapidly increasing steel costs and general construction cost increases that a strong economy brings. Cost concerns coupled with a tight labor force had us sweating a bit to the finish line.”
Unique Needs Of The Community
Because of the unique location, a complete and thorough understanding of the community was necessary to create the business’s marketing and operational strategies. Helgeson and his team at 180 Self-Storage knew local marketing with the personal touch was critical to the success of the operation. How the business is perceived through the eyes of the residents and local businesses needed to the number-one priority.
They began by hiring manager Jamie Simpson, who has three years of self-storage management experience and lives in the community. He is a Verrado advocate with natural charisma and a “can-do” attitude.
Early on, the team realized promotional efforts needed go beyond traditional web leads and business to business marketing. The strategy needed to be inclusive of the entire community. This includes social media but is focused primarily on face-to-face promotional efforts with the local schools, businesses, and the realtor community within Verrado. Sponsoring junior high and high school events has demonstrated the business’ commitment to the community.
In addition, the management team purchases gift certificates from local restaurants and the community coffee shop, which are used in sales promotions along with Dominion’s branded pens and coffee mugs. Finally, tireless effort has been made to maintain the Dominion Self-Storage brand expectations. Customers find a warm and friendly environment that is clean, safe, and secure at this top-notch facility.
Website development and search engine optimization firm G5 was also enlisted to create and maintain the company’s website. In addition to the ongoing SEO, they also manage the company’s Google platform. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are also used to generate traffic and goodwill.
Clear Kinship Everyone involved with bringing Dominion Self-Storage at Verrado from concept to competition will attest that the project would not have been successful without their unwavering efforts to truly fit into the community. By creating a kinship with its market’s residential and commercial clientele, Dominion Self-Storage at Verrado is on a clear path to success.
Poppy Behrens is the publisher of Phoenix, Arizona-based MiniCo Publishing.