In its hometown of Ladera Ranch, CA, self-storage operator Strategic Storage Trust plans to build an athletic complex that includes self-storage. The $32.6 million project will be adjacent to the REIT’s headquarters and flagship storage facility.

The Orange County Planning Commission recently approved a proposal submitted by Strategic Storage Trust President and CEO H. Michael Schwartz to build the 119,000-square-foot, four-story complex. In addition to 56,800 square feet of basketball and volleyball courts, the facility will feature 255 storage units in 41,400 square feet.

The facility also will contain 21,000 square feet of offices for Strategic Storage Trust, a non-traded REIT that operates the SmartStop Self Storage brand of storage facilities.

“The mixed use financially makes sense. We can build the nicest indoor gymnasium in the U.S., and we need to expand storage space and offices for our growing operations,” Schwartz said at recent planning meeting covered by the Orange County Register.

Schwartz said the complex would be outfitted with live video cameras that parents or scouts could access to watch athletes in action.

The project is set to break ground in the spring of 2015.

When contacted by The SpareFoot Storage Beat, Strategic Storage Trust declined to comment.

Groundbreaking for the Ladera Athletic Complex is set for the spring of 2015.

Acquiring the site

In 2011, Strategic Storage Trust bought the existing 100,000-square-foot facility at 30 Terrace Road for $20.9 million from Public Storage. The deal included the undeveloped land, which cost another $3.9 million.

At the time, Schwartz said in a news release that the site was one of the few remaining undeveloped parcels in Ladera Ranch, which is a master-planned community in Orange County. The company did identify at the time what be built on the undeveloped land.

Strategic Storage Trust owns more than 120 self-storage facilities in several states and in Canada.

Athletic sponsor

Combining athletics and storage makes sense for Strategic Storage Trust. The company’s SmartStop Self Storage brand is a sponsor of several athletes.

SmartStop backs MMA fighter Shawn Bunch and previously sponsored another MMA fighter. The company also supports a competitive cycling team, Team SmartStop Pro Cycling, based in Winston-Salem, NC. The team recently announced it would be relocating to Canada; it’s raising funds to compete in the Tour de France.

Also, the company recently sponsored climbers on a Mount Everest expedition.

Ladera Ranch Athletic Complex
The facility will contain 21,000 square feet of offices for Strategic Storage Trust.

Mixed use in storage

Jeff Kinder, president of self-storage consulting firm Advantage Advisors, said mixing self-storage with another use could benefit the Ladera Ranch project.

“It allows the ability to put storage close to Main and Main,” Kinder said. “It gives reasons for people to come by your facility other than storage.”

Those people are prospective customers who will consider that facility for their storage needs because they’re familiar with it.

“Storage being an event-driven business, you want that feeling of convenience,” Kinder said. “The more recognition your facility already has in mind, the less chance that person will blindly search through the Internet or Yellow Pages.”

Sometimes, the reason for mixed use is more practical, such as needing to be diverse to secure local zoning approval. Oftentimes, retail or office works well, but Kinder said it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s backed by a solid business plan.

“You have to do two separate business plans and hope that both businesses do well on that site,” Kinder said.

Images courtesy of Robert R. Coffee Architects + Associates

Alexander Harris