West Coast Self-Storage Bifold Doors Enable Developer to Meet Code Requirements, Save Money

Posted by Admin on Aug 9, 2023 12:00:00 AM

FAIRFAX, Minn. Drew Bowlds, owner of Bowlds Construction and four self-storage sites in the state of Washington, was hit by a brainstorm while visiting his airplane hangar at the Tacoma Narrows Airport. He was in the process of permitting a new self-storage facility located in the Dupont, Wash., downtown business district. Because of the location and design requirements, the city wouldn’t let him surround it with a fence, which would commonly be erected for storage facilities.

“The city had a lot of concerns about building appearance and requirements when we were permitting it,” says Bowlds. “For this location to be allowed it had to look very high-end and blend in with the surrounding retail and core downtown area and not look like a traditional self-storage facility. They didn’t want any fences. Typically, on a self-storage facility, you fence the entire property and utilize a gate where you punch your code to a keypad get in and unload your stuff. When you look at this property from the street, it looks like high-end condominiums. We actually had to put fake doors behind glass windows so that potential customers could identify the building as a storage facility.

“Solving the access issue was a real quandary for me; my passion is aviation. I was going to fly my airplane one day and looked at the Schweiss door on my hangar and said, ‘Huh, I bet I could put one of these bifold doors on my loading bay! When the door is up, it will create a covered loading area, and when it is down, it will look like the rest of this building and be an innovative solution to this problem.’ As I went deeper into this concept, I realized this allowed me to make my building substantially larger and therefore, more profitable, taking space that would have been fenced in and increasing the building footprint to cover that area with income generating square footage.”

Two Schweiss Doors bifold doors, measuring 35 feet by 19 feet and 27 feet by 19 feet, cleared up that quandary and now are being used to access loading bays and the elevator lobby. Two hydraulic freight elevators take the work out of bringing storage holdings to the top two floors. Customers are only permitted to access the floor their unit is on through the use of a keypad that is interfaced to the elevator.

West Coast Self-Storage is a new three-story, mixed-use 92,598-square-foot building. In addition to storage, is includes an Ace Hardware store that has a little more than 10,000 square feet of retail space. The storage has 592 climate-controlled and drive-up units that vary from 10-12-foot ceilings with unit sizes as small as 5 feet by 5 feet to as big as 10 feet wide by 30 feet deep. This adds 59,083 square feet of rentable storage space with the availability of truck rentals and moving and packing supplies.

Due to the strategic location, the facility was also selected for a grant from the Washington State Department of Transportation, to host 5 “EVgo” high-speed electrical vehicle charging stations, utilizing 50KW vehicle chargers capable of charging electrical vehicles at a very rapid rate.

Because the manager is onsite from only 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Bowlds’ next step was to contact his access control provider to get the doors to automatically open at 6 a.m. and close at 10 p.m., allowing more access for customers.

Now all tenants get a code specific to their storage unit. If it’s located on the upper floor, they punch in a code to call the elevator that will take them to that floor. All the man-doors to the building have electric strikes on them, so they either punch in a code or have an RFID card on their keychain that can be waved over a sensor allowing entry. That same access control system interfaces with a low-voltage gate controller that allows a gate to open.

The next step was to get in touch with Schweiss Doors to find out which terminal on the electric bar could be used to send an intermittent signal that would signal the door to open and close. It turns out that it was actually quite easy to wire up and interface these two products to work together. All controls that automatically open and close everything are integrated very well into the West Coast Self-Storage access control system.

“I called Jeremy at Schweiss Doors and he told me they sell photo eye sensors and another safety strip that goes on the bottom of the door so if it bumps into something, it will stop the door,” Bowlds says. “I showed my architect pictures and he said, ‘You realize this has never been done before!’

“He redesigned my building by taking out the fence and gate. I got a lot more building because I didn’t have to use up my land. The city loved the look of it and it works great for our customers and the bigger building means more units and more money. On top of that, believe it or not, the two bifold doors were quite a bit less expensive than a gate controller and wrought iron fence would have been.”

The bifold liftstrap doors are also equipped with automatic latching systems, and a keyed up/stop/down switch as well as the Schweiss Doors remote control system. Bowlds says he likes the operation of a bifold door because it enables his customers to park closer to the door – it lifts in a straight-up motion as opposed to a hydraulic door that swings outward.

About Schweiss Doors

Schweiss Doors is the premier manufacturer of hydraulic and bifold liftstrap doors. Doors are custom made to any size for any type of new or existing building for architects and builders determined to do amazing things with their buildings, including the doors. Schweiss also offers a cable to liftstrap conversion package. For more information, visit www.bifold.com.


West Coast Self-Storage in DuPont, Wash., ordered two Schweiss Doors bifold liftstrap loading bay doors, measuring 35 feet by 19 feet and 27 feet by 19 fee, for a new downtown Class A facility.






The City of DuPont wanted a high-end look to blend in with the downtown area and wouldn’t allow a fenced-in facility. When the bifold doors are down, they look like the rest of the building.






West Coast Self-Storage owner Drew Bowlds decided on the Schweiss Doors bifold door style because it would enable his customers to park closer to the doors. He got the idea for bifold doors from his aircraft hangar that also has a Schweiss door on it.





westcoast Utilizing bifold doors instead of fencing allowed the use of more land and a larger income generating square footage building, and resulted in less expense than a gate controller and fencing would have cost.