VOL. 110 | NO. 240 | Friday, December 13, 1996
lj 10/5 cates
Downtown apartments get new life as storage facility
By LAURIE JOHNSON
The Daily News
A derelict Downtown apartment complex is undergoing a transformation into something that could be a benefit to residents and businesses in the area: a state-of-the-art storage facility.
Construction began this week on A Lock N Key Mini-Storage the conversion of the former Gateway Apartments at 1045 Jefferson Ave. into a 347-unit mini-storage warehouse.
Storage compartments will range from 50 square feet to 500 square feet, and April 1 is the scheduled completion date.
The facility, which is located across the street from the Veterans Administration Hospital is expected to attract a customer base that will include not only individuals, but also nearby medical facilities, Downtown and Midtown businesses and government offices, said Lee Faulkner, managing partner of Gateway Apartments L.P., the propertys ownership group.
"I also own several apartment properties in the area, and just from checking around and finding out what the supply and demand essentially was for Downtown and the medical center area, it seemed like there was a need for it," Faulkner said.
For renovation purposes, the partnership which also includes local businessmen Philip Kantor and Ben Wolmark of Philip Kantor & Associates and John and Pancheta Faulkner of Jellico financed $1.1 million with Brownsville Bank, according to a trust deed filed recently with the Shelby County Registers Office.
When complete, units in the facility will feature fire-resistant construction and optional climate control. Freight elevators will have front and rear door openings to facilitate loading directly from the driveways. The facility also is designed to accommodate the handicapped.
Security at the facility will be tight, Faulkner said. A 10-foot cyclone fence will surround the property, and the entrance gates will be electronically controlled. Access by customers will be logged automatically through a computer system.
Rental rates for the facility will range from $35 to $300 per month.
The property was purchased at a foreclosure sale in 1995 from Washington Bancorp for $310,000. Although the original plan for renovating the property was to upgrade the 30-year-old complex, development difficulties, however, soon had the partnership considering other options. Because of the nature of the property, the storage facility idea was the winner, Faulkner said.
"The structure of the three-story building lends itself to a fairly smooth transition from apartment complex to mini-storage," he said. "We are basically knocking out the interior walls and reconfiguring the space into storage units. Were not having to go to the extreme of leveling the building and starting over.
"And without the extra plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling requirements that apartments have, this will mean lower maintenance and management fees."
Different aspects of the renovation are being provided by each of the partners in the venture. John Faulkner, owner of John D. Faulkner Construction Co., is the general contractor for the project. Kantor, owner of the engineering firm Philip Kantor & Associates, completed the design work for the project.
Ben Wolmark, also with Kantor & Associates, is handling the financial details of the project. Wolmark and Lee Faulkner will be the leasing agents for the property.
Faulkner said that although there are two other mini-storage facilities within a 3.5-mile radius of A Lock N Key, there seemed to be enough demand for another operator.
"Needless to say, we dont want any more competition, but I dont think it will be a problem" said Susan Young, manager of Storage Trusts 1075 Madison Ave. location. "Theres enough business Downtown to warrant a newcomer."
"It would be a welcome addition," said Edmond Armentrout, executive director of the Center City Commission. "That particular location is convenient not only to Downtown residents but also to those living in Midtown ... I think theyve found a good market niche."
"This is an extremely strong market for us," said Charles Davis, district manager for Storage USA, which has a Downtown branch at 395 Union Ave. "Weve been very pleased with that location."
Davis said the company was currently expanding the 529-unit facility to include more climate-controlled compartments, which are in high demand.