Drew Bowlds, owner of Bowlds Construction and four self-storage sites in Washington state got a brainstorm one day while visiting his airplane hangar at the Tacoma Narrows Airport. He was in the process of permitting a new self-storage facility located in the downtown business district Dupont, Washington. Because of the location and design requirements the city wouldn't let him surround it with a fence like you would commonly see on other storage facilities.
"The city had a lot of concerns about building appearance and requirements when we were permitting it -for this location to be allowed it had to look very high end and blend in with the surrounding retail and core downtown area and not look like a traditional self-storage facility. They didn't want any fences. Typically on a self-storage facility you fence the entire property and utilize a gate where you punch your code to a keypad to open get in and unload your stuff. When you look at this property from the street, it looks like high-end condominiums. We actually had to put fake doors behind the glass windows so that potential customers could identify the building as a storage facility.
“I showed my architect pictures and he said, 'You realize this has never been done before!' He redesigned my building by taking out the fence and gate, I got a lot more building because I didn't have to use up my land. The city loved the look of it and it works great for our customers and the bigger building means more units and more money. On top of that, believe it or not, the two bifold doors were quite a bit less expensive than a gate controller and wrought iron fence would have been. I know my door won't be the last door you sell for self-storage. Other developers in the area are already evaluating this for their buildings and asking me questions on how the doors work.”
- Drew Bowlds, Owner
West Coast Self-Storage, WA
"Solving the access issue was a real quandary for me, my passion is aviation," said Bowlds. "I was going to fly my airplane one day and looked at the Schweiss door on my hangar and said 'Huh, I bet I could put one of these bifold doors on my loading bay! When the door is up it will create a covered loading area, and when it is down it will look like the rest of the building and be an innovative solution to this problem. As I went deeper into this concept I realized this allowed me to make my building substantially larger (and therefore more profitable) taking space that would have been fenced and increasing the building footprint to cover that area with income generating square footage. "
Two Schweiss bifold doors, a 35 ft. x 19' and a 27 ft. x 19 ft. cleared up that quandary and are now being used to access loading bays and elevator lobby. Two hydraulic freight elevators take the work out of bringing storage holdings to the top two floors. Customers are only permitted to access the floor their unit is on through the use of a keypad that is interfaced to the elevator.
West Coast Self-Storage is a brand-new three-story mixed-use 92,598 sq. ft. building. In addition to storage it also includes an Ace Hardware store that has a little over 10,000 sq. ft. of retail space. The storage operation has 592 climate controlled and drive-up units that vary with 10 ft. to 12 ft. ceilings with unit sizes as small as 5 ft. x 5 ft. to as big as 10 ft. wide x 30 ft. deep. This adds 59,083 square feet of rentable storage space with the availability of truck rentals and moving and packing supplies.
Due to the strategic location the facility was also selected for a grant from Washington State Department of Transportation to host one of 5 "EVgo" high-speed electric vehicle charging stations utilizing 50KW vehicle chargers capable of charging electric vehicles at a very rapid rate.
Because a manager is only there from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Bowlds next step was to contact his access control provider Stor-Guard to get the doors to automatically open at the 6 a.m. business time opening and automatically close at 10 p.m.
Now, every tenant gets his or her own code to their specific storage unit. If it's located on the upper floor they punch in a code to call the elevator that will take them to that floor. All the man-doors to the building have electric strikes on them, so they either punch in a code or they have a RFID card on their keychain that gets waived over a sensor allowing entry into the door. That same access control system interfaces with a low voltage gate controller that allows a gate to open.
The builder had to put fake doors behind the glass windows so that potential customers could identify the building as a storage facility. All the man-doors to the building have electric strikes on them, and every tenant gets his or her own code to their specific storage unit.
Their next step was to get in touch with Schweiss Doors to find out which terminal on the electric bar could be used to send an intermittent signal that would signal the door to open and close. It turns out that it was actually quite easy to wire up and interface these two products to work together. All the controls that automatically open and close everything are integrated very well into West Coast Self-Storage access control software.
"I then called Jeremy at Schweiss Doors and he told me they sell photo eye sensors and another safety strip that goes on the bottom of the door so if it bumps into something it will stop the door. I showed my architect pictures and he said, 'You realize this has never been done before!' He redesigned my building by taking out the fence and gate, I got a lot more building because I didn't have to use up my land. The city loved the look of it and it works great for our customers and the bigger building means more units and more money. On top of that, believe it or not, the two bifold doors were quite a bit less expensive than a gate controller and wrought iron fence would have been."
The bifold liftstrap doors are also equipped with automatic latching systems, and a keyed up/stop/down switch as well as the Schweiss remote control system. Bowlds said he likes the operation of a bifold door because it enables his customers to park closer to the door because it lifts in a straight up motion as opposed to a hydraulic door that swings outward.
When you look at the property from the street the three-story building resembles high-end condominiums. It has 59,083 square feet of rentable storage space and a co-located Ace Hardware.
The storage operation has 592 climate controlled and drive-up units that vary with 10 ft. to 12 ft. ceilings with unit sizes as small as 5 ft. x 5 ft. and as large as 10 ft. wide x 30 ft. deep.
"I just went through the manual, rigged it and installed it and had my electrician wire up the high voltage stuff. I also made some calls to Jeremy. I was intimidated taking on the project having never installed one of these before but it was pretty easy; you just have to read the manual," said Bowlds. "You guys were real good to deal with, friendly, helpful, answering questions and assistance working with my structural engineer on how to design the building to accommodate the doors was above and beyond. I know my door won't be the last door you sell for self-storage. Other developers in the area are already evaluating this for their buildings and asking me questions on how the doors work."
West Coast Self-Storage, DuPont is a brand new Class A storage facility located in downtown DuPont Washington. Their facility is 100 percent heated and humidity regulated. The property is open seven days a week 365 days a year and offers high security climate controlled self-storage with video surveillance of the property. Co-located to the facility is an independently owned and operated ACE hardware.
West Coast Self-Storage DuPont Serves the communities of Dupont, Lakewood, Steilacoom, and Lacey, Washington, and is extremely close to JBLM (Joint Base Lewis McChord), one of the largest military bases on the west coast.
The city of DuPont wanted a high-end look to blend in with the downtown area and wouldn't allow a fenced-in facility. When the bifold doors are down, they look like the rest of the building.
Due to its strategic location the Washington State Department of Transportation selected the facility for a grant to host "EVgo" high speed electric vehicle charging stations utilizing 50KW rapid rate vehicle chargers.
Owner, Drew Bowlds, decided on the Schweiss bifold door style because it would enable his customers to park closer to the doors. He got the idea for bifold doors from his aircraft hangar that also has a Schweiss door on it.
Utilizing bifold doors instead of fencing allowed the use of more land and a larger income generating square footage building, and resulted in less expense than a gate controller and fencing would have cost.