We’re introducing you to our Best Real Estate Projects of the Year. This is the top innovative design project. Typically squat, bland and utilitarian, self-storage places generally aren’t considered innovative or visually appealing. But someone forgot to tell that to the team behind Broadway Storage. Situated at X and 3rd streets in Downtown Sacramento, the four-story project is a modern-looking structure with 1,243 units (the fourth floor is climate controlled), nearly 4,000 square feet of first-floor retail space and even a two-bedroom manager’s apartment on the second floor.
Not your typical self-storage facility, Broadway Storage has 1,243 units and 4,000 square feet of first-floor retail space. photo by Brandt Pemberton
The Grupe Co. developed the $21 million Broadway Storage. In addition to self-storage projects, Stockton-based Grupe also develops master-planned communities, single-family homes, multifamily and commercial/retail projects. Company President Mark Fischer said Grupe purchased the land near Broadway in 2005 to build a storage facility and for-sale condos, but then the Great Recession hit. “We sat on the property until 2018,” said Fischer. “It was a long time coming. We definitely saw a need for storage in that area.” While not as sexy as new retail or restaurant development, self-storage projects are growing increasingly popular in Sacramento, as the area’s population continues to climb.The region had the fifth-highest rate of growth in new units in the country, according to a November 2019 report on the self-storage market by research firm Yardi Matrix. Working with DesCor Builders and Vrilakas Groen Architects, Grupe broke ground in May 2018. “We’ve done many storage-unit projects, but nothing quite like this,” Fischer said. “We put a lot of thought into the design and were really mindful of its impact on the community. We didn’t want to it to look like a ratty, old-timey storage facility.” Denton Perreault, project manager with DesCor Builders, said they faced logistical challenges during construction. “It was a very tight project site, with city streets on two sides,” he said. Perreault said DesCor made some street improvements along one corner of the project parcel, which was under the California Department of Transportation’s jurisdiction because it was so close to the freeway and an offramp. “It required a lot of coordination and collaboration with the city, the public works department and Caltrans,” he said. “We had to get a lot of approvals.” The shape and placement of the storage facility also proved to be tricky, said Perreault. “The building has a very elaborate geometry,” he said. “There isn’t a single right angle. It was designed to maximize the space available on that lot, which was challenging from the perspective of installing foundations and structural steel.” Moreover, Fischer said that just before they were about to start construction, President Donald Trump imposed steel and aluminum tariffs, which caused prices to increase. “When we started playing footsies with the Chinese, our project cost increased by about $1 million,” he said. As Broadway Storage began to take shape, Perreault with Descor said they got lots of questions from visitors. “As we were building the project, there was a ton of visibility along the freeway. As we would get deliveries, they would ask us what the building was going to be. Just from the architecture and shape, people assumed it was going to be an office space.” The project wrapped up in late 2019. Its crowning piece is a big red neon sign on the roof that spells out “Broadway” in 10-foot-high letters. “It’s a permanent landmark,” said Fischer. “What made the entire project a success was the collaborative process with the developer and architect. We created a really unique building in a one-of-a-kind area.” Fischer said the project is one more step forward in helping reinvigorate and brand the Broadway area, which is home to the historic, art deco Tower Theatre, and where the flagship location of the now-defunct Tower Records once stood. But when the state built the elevated W/X freeway some 50 years ago, it separated Broadway from Downtown, which caused the area to slowly decline. The city is looking to improve the area with its Broadway Complete Streets project, including plans for new bicycle lanes and pedestrian crossings, which is intended to help spur new development. Grupe continues to participate in that effort. The company plans to build a 74-unit, five-story apartment building on a parcel adjacent to Broadway Storage. Fischer said they hope to break ground by the end of the year. Fast Facts Broadway Storage Details: A four-story self-storage development with 1,243 units, nearly 4,000 square feet of first-floor retail space and a two-bedroom apartment. Cost: $21 million Completed: Q4 2019 Developer: The Grupe Co. General contractor: DesCor Builders Architect: Vrilakas Groen Architects Link to Article: 2020 Best Real Estate Preojcts: Broadway Storage By Sam Boykin  – Managing editor, Sacramento Business Journal Sep 18, 2020, 4:25pm EDT