Taking mini-storage to a new level: looking up for an answer

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4 story storage building

Trachte Building Systems photo

Self-storage businessman David Paladino found a perfect location in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, for his next venture, but he faced a dilemma: the site wasn’t large enough to accommodate the nearly 900 storage units he had in mind. The solution: go up.

Although most rural builders won’t ever face such a challenge, it helps to illustrate the wisdom of sometimes thinking beyond conventional design to achieve success.

Paladino selected Trachte Building Systems to help him with his Des Moines project. The 110-year-old company’s first multi-floor storage unit was built in 1978, three years after it entered the self-storage business. Trachte now lays claim to hundreds of them built from two to three floors in height. Dino’s Storage, however, was their first four-story project.  “It was a hair over 120,000 square feet,” Trachte sales manager Jamie Lindau describes. “We took it to the max.”

Trachte Building Systems photo

For Lindau it was a no-brainer. “Almost everyone in the industry agrees that you have to have an elevator if you go up to two levels,” he says. “And so once you have an elevator, there’s no difference if you push button number 2 or button number 4, and our design doesn’t change that much to go from three to four floors.”

City building codes may not allow multiple floors, but in this case it did.

It was not a hastily done project. In fact, from start to finish, with all the planning involved, it took more than 3-1/2 years to create a space that would maximize the square footage of the city lot. “We kept going through design changes,” explains regional manager Jeff Bouchard, who worked with the client throughout the process. “There were many plan generations. The dimensions of the building must have changed 10 to 15 times.”

Jerry Neis handled the design, spending nearly five months hammering out the final elements. To fit everything in, the parcel ended up with a saw tooth design to accommodate parking. “In this case, the site was so small, we literally filled up the site,” Neis said.

The outside looks stylish, but is done with an affordable, all-metal corrugated wall panel. A cedar red overhang in front and other trim give it some architectural interest. All the structural steel elements were made by Trachte, and include Trachte’s trademark track-less roll-up door system to maximize individual storage spaces.

Because Dino’s Storage is situated downtown, there is no fencing, but the unit is monitored by a security system and office space allows staff to be on hand daily to handle business and customer traffic.  - By Sharon Thatcher, Rural Builder magazine

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