For the first time since 2008, storage operator US Storage Centers has opened a storage facility that it built from the ground up.

The four-story, 86,000-square-foot facility opened in early July on a prime parcel along Interstate 10 in Alhambra, CA, a Los Angeles suburb. The facility is at 2500 W. Hellman Ave.

Taking a risk

The rare opportunity to snap up a development site in such a high-traffic area was a key motivator for the company to end its development hiatus.

“I-10 is one of the world’s busiest freeways, and commuters have to drive directly past our location to and from work,” said Jason Lopez, vice president of marketing at US Storage Centers.

Lopez said other self-storage operators were interested in the parcel, and a major fast-food chain failed in its attempt to develop the property.

“We took a risk on buying the land because we had to get it re-entitled and the city said no a few times,” Lopez said.

US Storage Centers bought the 1-acre parcel in 2012 for $2.27 million, according to local property records.

Gaining approval

It was more than a two-year stretch from the time the company bought the land to when it completed the facility, according to Lopez. “That’s actually fast for California. I’m being somewhat facetious, but it is pretty typical,” he said.

US Storage Centers had to jump through various government hurdles before it could break ground on the project, whose price tag wasn’t available.

“Once we got going, it was a relatively smooth process because of the great team of people who helped us with the project,” Lopez said.

Alhambra Self Storage
US Storage Centers opened this facility in Alhambra, CA, in early July.

DAI General Construction, Kiwi II and Janus International were the project’s contractors.

Lopez said the company’s decision to build in Alhambra was based on that market rather than on macro-economic factors.

“This is really reflective of our overall approach to doing business, because we are very long-term owners. Even in the best of economic conditions, if the deal lacks the critical fundamentals, then we gladly will pass,” he said.

Attracted to Alhambra

The 876-unit, climate-controlled facility in Alhambra sits in an extremely dense market with high barriers to entry, Lopez said.

“Demand is incredible,” he said. “People are living on top of each other. We don’t have things called ‘backyards’ here, so that’s a big driver.

About 295,000 live within a three-mile radius of the facility, according to Lopez.

A growing operation

Founded in 1985, US Storage Centers owns or manages more than 80 facilities in the U.S. Lopez said the company owns about half of those facilities, and half of the owned facilities were built by the company.

“We are a builder by heart,” Lopez said.

In fact, the company is pursuing development projects in the Pacific Northwest through a joint venture with Iron Gate Properties. Lopez said US Storage Centers does have a few more developments in the pipeline, but he declined to share details.

In recent years, the Irvine, CA-based company has grown through acquisitions, mostly recently paying $4.7 million for two facilities in Arizona. Newport Beach, CA-based Westport Properties is the parent company of US Storage Centers.

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Alexander Harris