Denver-based Greenbox Self Storage prides itself on environmental sustainability as it builds self-storage facilities on urban infill sites in Denver.

So it was an unpleasant surprise to find that much more asbestos abatement would be needed as the company started demolishing the former Rockies Inn, which eventually will become Greenbox’s fourth self-storage facility in the Mile High City. That site is at 4760 E. Evans Avenue, near I-25.

Rockies Inn
Greenbox’s redevelopment of the Rockies Inn in Denver is still ongoing. Photo via BusinessDen.

Big aspirations

But that’s just a temporary setback for parent company Focus Property Group, which has worked steadily for 10 years to position Greenbox as a larger player in the industry. Now it’s nearing expansion to other states, perhaps by 2017, with the eventual goal of perhaps 100 facilities nationwide.

“We’re looking at doing two, if not three or four more facilities before the end of the year,” said Josh Fine, vice president and legal counsel. “Not necessarily open, but a total of six or more identified projects underway.”

All of those would be in Denver.

Greenbox's facility at 3310 Brighton Boulevard in Denver.
Greenbox’s facility at 3310 Brighton Boulevard in Denver.

In the meantime

Greenbox is also redeveloping its first project, basically starting from scratch, at 20th and Chestnut streets in downtown Denver. The company has operated that facility for about 10 years.

Meanwhile, on the 1.5-acre Rockies Inn site, “We’re removing asbestos from throughout the building before we can level it,” Fine said. “We’re nearing the end of that project.”

Once regulatory agencies give their approval, Greenbox can name its groundbreaking date, perhaps within two months.

When completed, the new facility will house 1,141 units.

Denver's fast growth has created more demand for storage, says Fine.
Denver’s fast growth has created more demand for storage, says Fine.

Mile high market

Denver sports enthusiasts need some place to store their toys, which has been a boon to Greenbox’s business over the years.

“With all the multifamily that’s being built, particularly in the center of our city, and all the gear that people have—skis, snowboards, mountain bikes—there’s a lot of demand for storage,” said Fine.

People are moving back into the central core of many cities, which means accepting a smaller living space.

“You need some space outside your apartment to store these things,” Fine said. “If your skis are in a storage unit in the suburbs, it defeats the purpose of living in downtown Denver.”

Solar panels provide 90 percent of the energy used at Greenbox facilities.
Solar panels provide 90 percent of the energy used at Greenbox facilities.

Keeping it green

The “green” in Greenbox? It starts with placing solar panels on all the roofs of its facilities. It costs six figures to install them, but the company gets the usual payback somewhere between three and seven years.

“We draw a lot less energy from the grid and we use less energy,” Fine said.

In addition, Xcel Energy gives Greenbox a rebate on the solar energy it uses.

“Over the long term, it is a smart investment and it’s a more responsible decision to do it.”

Greenbox also embraces other sustainable building features including highly insulated materials, recycled materials, LED lighting and dual flush toilets.

“Energy is one of the largest line items on our expense budget. From both an economic and environmental standpoint, it’s important that we’re energy-efficient,” Fine said.

Long term strategy

As it looks to the future, Fine said Greenbox will consider cities outside of Colorado in 2017.

“If there’s a site that really fits our sweet spot, we’ll take a look at it,” Fine said. “Our focus in 2016 is really establishing our brand here.”

Eventually, Greenbox may pursue becoming a REIT.

“That ultimately will be an exit strategy once we grow our brand to multiple cities and more locations across the country,” he said. “We would no longer be closely held; we’d be a REIT with many investors.”

But there’s no rush, as Greenbox wants to keep developing its brand and not expand too quickly.

“Make sure that we expand strategically and find the spots that will enforce the value of our brand,” Fine said.

Bruce Goldberg