Given a range of options for building a project along Miami Beach's Alton Road, retail, residential or perhaps a hotel might come to mind. But Ken Edelman decided self-storage is the way to go.
EP SoBe Storage, a company led by Weston-based Edelman and car dealer Alan Potamkin, recently received city planning board approval to build a 22,500-square-foot self-storage facility at 633 Alton Road, just off the exit ramp from the MacArthur Causeway.
It won't have a typical boxy and boring self-storage design. Edelman said architect Manny Gutierrez, of Gutierrez & Lozano Architects, put a great deal of time into the project to make it one of the most attractive self-storage facilities in the world.
It took four years for Urban Box Self Storage to receive approval after the developer convinced the city to change the zoning to allow for self-storage in the historical district. It also had to produce a building design that fit in with the stylish neighborhood.
"The city made us design a building that was iconic because it was at the gateway to the city," Edelman said. "It was tough. [Gutierrez] did many redesigns."
So why all that trouble for a self-storage facility in one of the world's party hot spots?
"The market is very underserved. There's not enough self-storage on the beach," Edelman said. "Everywhere you go in any community, there is a certain amount of self-storage needed to serve the needs of people. People move, or they don't have enough room for their stuff."
There are a handful of self-storage facilities in South Beach, including a Public Storage location, and they are mostly full, Edelman said. According to his market study based on the need for seven square feet of self-storage per resident within a 2-mile radius, South Beach needs more than 250,000 square feet of storage capacity.
When the barrier to entry in a market is so high, it allows them to charge higher rates, Edelman added.
That particular 15,000-square-foot site on Alton Road isn't great for retail because it's not easily accessible when driving south, but it has great visibility, which is a key for self-storage, Edelman said.
Urban Box Self Storage will include a wine storage facility with 200 lockers in a climate-controlled environment. It will have a biometric lock on the entrance and a backup generator. Edelman said it would serve all the restaurants and luxury condos.
He hopes to break ground in June.
For his next venture, Edelman has a site – along Coral Way near Southwest 37th Avenue, on the outskirts of Coral Gables – where he wants to build – what else – a 70,000-square-foot self-storage facility.
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