Self Storage Murals Gain Attention

Posted by Brad Hadfield on May 26, 2023 12:00:00 AM

Community murals are more popular than ever in cities across America. Philadelphia, for example, has more than 4,000 murals. What began as an anti-graffiti initiative has taken on a life of its own, and now the “City of Brotherly Love” is also becoming known to many as “The City of Murals.” Other cities are following in Philly’s footsteps, such as Detroit, which recently commissioned more than 200 murals in a quest to become America’s “Top Street Art City.”

Also getting in on the act? Security Public Storage in Manteca, California, a city of approximately 80,000 residents located 75 miles east of San Francisco. The self-storage facility recently had 12 murals painted along the side of ten existing mini-storage complexes. Others will soon follow. The series of murals are designed to celebrate Manteca and its surrounding areas. They depict Manteca founder Joshua Cowell, Caswell Memorial State Park and its natural stand of riparian oaks, Knights Ferry river park, Yosemite Valley, and more.

The murals, titled “Manteca’s Treasures,” is being dedicated on Wednesday, May 31, between 9am and 12pm at 316 East Lathrop Road. “People have been really appreciative of the murals,” said Penny Haskins, who has been managing the storage facility for 17 years. She says that people have thanked Security Public Storage for the efforts to beautify the community, and that not a day goes by that someone doesn’t pose in front of the mural for a photo.

Making the Case for Murals

Although murals in many urban areas began as anti-graffiti initiatives in the 1980s (muralist Dave Gordon says that murals are rarely the target of “taggers”), today they are popping up in order to create more vibrant neighborhoods. Well-crafted murals have been shown to bring the community together in a positive manner, creating areas that people want to visit, reside in, and keep clean. YES! Magazine says that not only are murals great for artistic placemaking and city marketing, but that “Public art also provides economic benefits, including new jobs and increased tourism.” Condé Nast Traveler has even put together photos of some of the world’s best street art.

Some Self Storage Facilities Are Embracing Murals

Should other self-storage facilities take a page from Security Public Storage and transform bare or boring building walls into public works of art? Despite the aforementioned benefits to the community, the mural can also be seen as a way for self-storage facilities to cut through the promotional noise and stand apart from the competition. Becoming a selfie hot-spot, for example, can be a great way to keep a brand name top-of-mind and showing up at the top of social feeds. That’s what Greenway Self Storage owner Tom Dorathy did at his Roanoke, Virginia facility. He says that people love to photograph themselves in front of their blue heron mural, and that it’s become a prime spot for prom photos. 

StorQuest, which operates more than 200 self storage facilities across the country, has also embraced murals. At a Los Angeles, California facility, the owners teamed up with LA street artist Ruben Rojas and non-profit Beautify Earth to create a three-story-tall tribute mural to Kobe and Gianna Bryant. The basketball star and his daughter perished in a helicopter crash in 2020, leaving many in the community heartbroken over the loss of their hero and his child. 

More recently, Rojas and StorQuest teamed up again, this time at a facility in Oakland, California. The seven-story mural features a painting of Earth with the message “Love Me Before I’m Gone.” The imagery is designed to inspire individuals to take action that will help save the planet. 

Permitting for Murals

“In the past, often little thought was put into [self storage facility] design outside of security features,” writes Storelocal on their blog. “After all, most were located in industrial areas on the outskirts of town, so ‘looking pretty’ wasn’t a top priority.” Of course, a lot has changed over the years, and today many self storage facilities are built with an eye toward style and aesthetics, something a mural could detract from even if it offers a unique marketing opportunity. In addition, facilities moving into commercial or residential areas could experience pushback from the local government or even housing associations.

In cases where the art installation is within a private property but located in an outdoor setting… a number of requirements by the municipality’s building department would likely be triggered,” Octavio Robles AIA, Esq., told ARTDISTRICTS. He goes on to say that art installation agreements typically require extensively written contracts with the property owner, commissioning entity and municipality, but this is beneficial for “avoiding conflicts, allocating liability and determining short and long-term responsibilities such as for maintenance and repair costs.“

Have a mural at your self storage facility we can feature? Share a photo and some background on the project.