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Gill Properties breaks mold with Storage Towne concept

August 1, 2016

Historically, storage facilities have been constructed in areas zoned for industrial use, but one Memphis-based developer is helping municipalities see storage in a new light.

Real estate development firm Gill Properties Inc. recently won approval to put a next-generation storage concept in areas zoned for residential and commercial use.

“[Storage] is a mis-zoned use, it’s really a retail use,” said Ray Gill, principal of Gill Properties Inc.

Last year, Gill Properties received zoning approval from the Memphis City Council to build a Storage Towne of America facility in a residentially zoned, commercial-heavy area of East Memphis. The companies sixth and largest facility in the Storage Towne portfolio is planned near the Colonial Apartments at Poplar Avenue and Reddoch Street. The intersection is shared by Bud Davis Cadillac Inc. and Blue Plate Cafe.

Zoning approval was also secured for a commercial area at the northwest corner of Hacks Cross Road and Players Club Parkway near the Germantown-Memphis line. The location is directly across the street from the South Breeze assisted living community and adjacent to Fieldstone Apartments.

Gill Properties’ Storage Towne of America concept combats its industry’s bad rap. The units are built in desirable neighborhoods and come with upmarket amenities to make customers feel safe — automatic lights, hallways and doors with clear lines of site and a manager who literally lives on-site in an apartment above the leasing office.

“We’re trying to raise the bar as more people use storage — it’s about convenience, security and pleasant surroundings,” Gill said.

When selecting a site for storage, Gill Properties considers traffic patterns and areas of high education and income levels.

“But, honestly, everyone uses storage,” Gill said. “It has become a lifestyle.”

One of the ways Ray Gill determines if an area needs storage is by driving around surrounding neighborhoods.

“You’ll see garage doors open with a full garage and the cars parked outside,” he said.

The facility gives baby boomers a place to “live without the things they want to keep” when they inherit family belongings.

Gill Properties opened its newest Storage Towne in Collierville — just east of Central Church on East Winchester Boulevard.

For the latest location, Brown Gill, vice president of Gill Properties Inc., traded in the industry’s old use of keys pads for apartment-style access, utilizing proximity cards and fobs.

As an industry of mostly mom-and-pop operations, self-storage equipment giants like PTI Security Systems offer over-priced equipment that pairs with proprietary software.

When one of the Gill’s security key pads went out at another Storage Towne facility — they own five and counting— PTI told them it would be an $800 fix. Not wanting to be held to one product, Brown Gill started exploring other options and found a Phoenix-based IP access control company, Infinias.

Since its inception in 2006, Infinias has installed more than 40,000 access control solutions in schools, hospitals, municipalities and industrial facilities, but the Collierville Storage Towne is its first foray into storage.

“Just like being able to rent a unit online, we’ve gone out and broke the mold of being forced to buy an $800 key pad,” Brown Gill said.

A 16,000-square-foot retail center is planned to accompany the Collierville location, full of “Internet-proof” personal services such as fitness centers and ice cream shops — “anything you have to personally go to,” Ray Gill said.

Gill Properties’ Collierville location joins its portfolio of two Storage Towne spots in Jackson, Tennessee, one in Memphis and one in Bartlett.

Ashley Klein, a transplant from Tulsa, is the property manager and lives on-site with her husband and daughter, whom she drives to Central Church’s daycare next door on the Storage Towne golf cart each day.

“I rarely have to get in my car, with a bank, grocery store and daycare across the street,” Klein said. “Living on property and being a part of this family-owned company is a great opportunity for me and my family.”

Chris Woods Construction was the general contractor on Storage Towne of America Collierville.