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2023 Overall Facility Of The Year
Arizona Self Storage At Tucson Foothills
By Erica Shatzer
Arizona Self Storage facility

ucson is well-known for many marvels. It is surrounded by five mountain ranges and several protected natural areas and contains seven of Earth’s nine ecosystems, making it one of the best destinations in the world for outdoor recreational activities. Now Tucson is also home to an esteemed self-storage facility with breathtaking views of the Catalina foothills and an awe-inspiring design that suspends three stories of units above a creek bed: Arizona Self Storage at Tucson Foothills, Messenger’s 2023 Facility of the Year overall winner.

The award-winning storage facility was developed by Aberdeen Management & Development, led by Founder Chris Monson, President Drew Monson, and Director of Marketing Kim Ryan. Aberdeen has developed many storage facilities over the years in multiple states and manages the Arizona Self Storage brand with facilities throughout Arizona. “We are proud to have worked with the architect, contractor, and landowners to overcome multiple development challenges and ultimately deliver an exceptionally attractive and functional product in which form and function truly complement each other,” says Drew.

Arizona Self Storage facility
A New Wonder
Arizona Self Storage at Tucson Foothills accentuates the splendor of its surroundings and immediately captures the attention of passersby. “It has the best view of Tucson,” says Ryan, who mentions that they’ve received countless compliments about its grandeur from customers and community members alike.

With more than 80 percent of the building’s footprint perched atop hefty beams and four-foot-wide caissons (watertight retaining structures), and stunning “jewel box windows” that resemble balconies to the untrained eye, it’s no surprise that everyone is impressed with Arizona Self Storage’s exquisite exterior and the way it is nestled into the desert topography.

However, because Arizona Self Storage at Tucson Foothills hovers over a “wash” (a dry creek bed that fills with water from monsoons and melted snow from the nearby mountains), taking the facility from conception to completion was no easy task by any measure. On the contrary, it was a momentous feat that required meticulousness and ingenuity from everyone involved with its development.

“From the very beginning of the project, landscaping presented to be an undeniable hurdle,” says Robert Kubicek, CEO, AIA at RKAA Architects, “but one that sets the project apart from other self-storage facilities in an incredible way.”

Arizona Self Storage facility
Arizona Self Storage facility
Arizona Self Storage facility
Rocky Start
Aberdeen Management & Development knew it would be difficult to develop a facility on a tight site with a wash from the start, but they were certain self-storage was the best use for the land as the costs and logistics may not make sense for other uses. “There is no other land in the area that can be developed like that,” says Ryan.

Though they were up for the challenge, the team’s troubles seemed to begin as soon as they made that determination. Protected vegetation within the wash, as well as an aviary for birds, prevented them from making a clear-cut decision about annexing the project into the city. “In the county, you can impact the vegetation in the wash with mitigation,” says Kubicek, “but in the city you cannot.”

They were able to negotiate with the city to keep the county codes, which enabled them to impact the wash’s vegetation with mitigation. They hired Novak Environmental, Inc., a landscape architect, to design a plan and relocate the protected plants and aviary to an off-site location.

“You can say that landscaping was quite literally a foundational piece of this project because if the precise forethought and planning hadn’t occurred, the project would have been prohibited and killed once annexed into the city of Tucson,” says Kubicek.

With that issue resolved, the project was able to proceed to the design phase in 2018, yet it would be about two years until they could break ground. Multiple iterations of the design were necessary to obtain approval from the city, thus delaying the groundbreaking to April of 2020—just in time for COVID-19 to create additional obstacles.

“A week after starting construction, the COVID-19 pandemic was at an all-time high,” Kubicek says, adding that the development was directly impacted by the nationwide supply chain issues, rising costs of materials, and labor shortages. “The team was in uncharted territory and had to combat those unforeseen challenges one day at a time, on top of lockdowns, sickness, and quarantine.”

Unfortunately, selecting alternative building materials was not an option, so they had to spend more on the steel and concrete needed to construct the facility. And since they had to use larger steel beams and cement caissons to hold the load of the building than initially calculated, the extra costs for those materials were substantial.

hallway of a storage facility with green doors
Digging In
Flawed core samples were to blame for the inaccurate calculations for the steel beams and cement caissons. According to Kubicek, core samples were taken from odd angles and locations to avoid disturbing the landscape. Based on the results of those core samples, they were expecting to build on drier, more stable land that could withstand the weight of the structure with two-foot-wide caissons.

Had they taken extra core samples in additional locations (and greater depths), they would have discovered that there was more water present in the soil than they believed. Instead, the issue was encountered when they began drilling to pour the caissons, and the team had to redesign the structural plan to account for the excess moisture.

To ensure the structural integrity of the project and “allow for the significant load,” it was necessary to double the size of the caissons and utilize the “largest commercially available beams without going custom,” says Kubicek. For maximum stability, the caissons plunge 30 feet into the ground.

“There is only a small percentage of the building that is actually on grade,” Kubicek says. “The majority of it isn’t on the ground.”

Because of this unique foundation, the four-story facility’s “basement” has a smaller footprint than the rest of the L-shaped building and it isn’t below ground like a typical basement. An access road that connects with a neighboring school and apartment complex enables the basement’s 82 ground-level units to be accessed from the exterior.

inside the front office of Arizona Self Storage
hallway of a self storage facility
Arizona Self Storage van in a warehouse
First-Rate Features
Undeniably, Arizona Self Storage at Tucson Foothills’ most exceptional element is its foundation, but the Class-A, 91,650-rentable-square-foot facility has numerous attractive and advantageous facets that set it apart from competitors near and far. It is also outfitted with high-end finishes to indulge the area’s more refined customer base.

“We hit every bell and whistle to create a first-class customer experience,” says Ryan. “It’s gorgeous and unlike other self-storage facilities.”

For starters, all 678 units, including the drive-up units, are climate controlled to keep customers comfortable as they move their belongings in Arizona’s scorching summer heat. Arizona Self Storage’s drive-thru loading bay is air conditioned as well. “Our customers truly appreciate our unique, fully enclosed and air-conditioned loading bay,” says Ryan. “Once inside, customers are completely protected from the elements as they load and unload their vehicles. People love it!”

The multiple elevators, which service all four floors of the facility, are oversized to allow customers to easily move into their units directly from the protected loading lobby and drive-up access points, with Premium Plus units located nearest the elevators. Standard, Premium, and Premium Plus unit options allow customers to choose the best option to fit their storage needs and budget.

Similar to other modern-day self-storage facilities, Arizona Self Storage has three corners with floor-to-ceiling windowpanes that permit Tucson’s ample sunlight to permeate the premises; the “jewel box windows” also showcase some of the bright green roll-up doors, enabling passersby to identify the building’s purpose. However, unlike other facilities, they aren’t faux doors. “There are real units in those corners,” says Kubicek, who jokes that they should command better rates for their scenic views like hotels do. “They are some of the best views from storage I have ever seen!”

Additionally, awning-like design elements framing the tops and bottoms of the windowpanes give depth to those corners, creating the illusion that they are balconies. As for the rest of façade, CMU in two earth tones and metal stud panels were used to produce bands of color and add to its aesthetic attractiveness.

Within the office and aisles, white hallway systems, polished floors, and quartz countertops keep the facility looking bright and pristine. Diamond plate corner guards, baseboards, and kickplates were utilized to protect the property from damage from their complementary moving carts and dollies.

“Our office is sleek, modern, and fully staffed with an on-site professional management team,” says Ryan. “We sell moving supplies for extra convenience and provide free use of our branded moving truck at move-in. Everything we do is with customer satisfaction in mind.”

Kubicek adds, “No corner was cut in the development of this premier self-storage facility. Quality and customer service are at the forefront of the entire operation.”

Arizona Self Storage facility
Arizona Self Storage facility
Exceptional Experience
On top of its upscale amenities, Arizona Self Storage at Tucson Foothills spared no expense to offer a state-of-the-art customer experience. Each unit is equipped with individual door alarms and accessible through a personalized electronic entry code system thanks to Janus International’s Nokē Smart Entry system, which Ryan says is a unique feature in Tucson. As a matter of fact, no other facility in the market offers it, except one in Marana, Ariz., which is approximately 25 miles away. The facility is outfitted with a virtual guard system that includes multiple cameras and an intercom system.

“Through the integration of smart technology, Arizona Self Storage takes security to all-new heights,” says Bethany Salmon, product marketing manager of Janus International. “Bluetooth electronic smart locks are installed throughout the facility and allow the specialization in zoning and custom access control per individual tenant. The thorough use of technology allows Arizona Self Storage to enhance the customer experience while taking advantage of operational benefits such as automatic lock checks, overlocks, releases, auctions, thermal motion mapping, and activity mapping. The data mining obtained via Nokē Smart Entry enables the facility to customize its approach and elevate customer satisfaction simultaneously.”

To accommodate each customer’s preference for interactions, Arizona Self Storage offers an online rental and payment system, an on-site rental kiosk, and “top-notch” managers, including an on-site resident manager. “Customers may rent with us in the way they prefer,” says Ryan.

Other perks of the property include extended access hours (seven days a week, 365 days a year), an asphalt parking lot with plenty of parking spaces, and an Arizona Self Storage branded moving truck that customers may use for free to move their belongings into the facility.

“People expect things to be easy and convenient,” Ryan says, “We make storing as easy as it can be!”

Rave Reviews

ince Arizona Self Storage at Tucson Foothills’ soft opening on May 1, 2022, the facility and its managers have earned high praise from its community members and 45 five-star Google reviews from its customers. It also has a five-star rating on Yelp. Here’s what some of the tenants have to say about the property:

“This facility is gorgeous, recently built, and convenient to navigate … I cannot recommend this place enough!”

“The facility is second to none, and I feel very comfortable leaving a good part of my life in the care of Arizona Self Storage … Highly recommended.”

“Our ‘stuff’ has a nicer view of the city than we do.”

“What a fantastic place! Very clean, great amenities. Very safe feel … Highly recommended.”

“We’ve rented a lot of storage units over the years, and this is by far the best storage unit ever.”

“The facility is well taken care of, clean, and modern. I used to keep my stuff in an ‘outdoor’ storage unit in Arizona. But once I found this place, I’ll never go back to those old, dusty, and hot units!”

“By far the best storage facility I have ever found. High-quality new construction built for safe, secure, climate-controlled storage.”

“AZ Self Storage outshines all storage facilities in Tucson. Clean, modern, and easy to move into.”

Phenomenal Lease-Up
Although Arizona Self Storage received its official certificate of occupancy on Aug. 10, 2022, the facility had a “soft opening” in May 2022 and rented space in phases. With a waitlist of more than 80 people and a “VIP preleasing event,” they were able to rent out the “basement” level and ground floor without offering any concessions. “The facility and location attracted customers without the need of typical grand opening specials,” says Ryan.

Instead of offering heavily discounted move-in rates during lease-up, Arizona Self Storage opted to promote the property through a grassroots marketing campaign that focused on sponsorships of local events such as the rotary club’s classic car show. They also utilized social media and online advertising opportunities through their company website, local listings, Google, Bing, Facebook/Meta, Yelp, and more.

What’s more, in addition to a referral program for existing tenants that provides a $25 discount to the current tenant who refers a new customer, Arizona Self Storage partnered with National Charity League (NCL) to implement a unique referral program that fosters the wellbeing of the community. Each time NCL refers a new customer to rent a unit at the facility, Arizona Self Storage donates $25 to the Tucson Chapter of NCL. According to the charity’s website, “NCL, Inc., Tucson Chapter is a group of mothers and daughters who have come together in a commitment to community service, leadership development, and cultural experiences … Like all NCL, Inc. Chapters, Tucson aims to foster the mother-daughter relationship by serving its communities together.”

“We implemented a multi-channel comprehensive marketing plan that includes online and digital marketing, social media marketing, brand awareness and reputation management, local marketing through signage, partnerships, sponsorships and more,” says Ryan.

Above all, despite being “competitively” priced and not running any move-in specials during lease-up, Arizona Self Storage managed to reach an occupancy rate of 80 percent within its first year of being open.

Beacon Of Brilliance
It’s easy to see what makes Arizona Self Storage at Tucson Foothills a modern marvel. But it’s the facility’s best-in-class service and five-star amenities that keep customers pleased with their storage experience. And with Aberdeen Management & Development operating and managing the property, Arizona Self Storage is sure to outshine the competition for years to come!
Quick Facts
Developer: Aberdeen Management & Development
Operator/Management: Aberdeen Management & Development
Architect: RKAA Architects, Inc.
General Contractor: Canyon Building & Design
Structural Engineer: Simply Structural Inc.
Landscape Architect: Novak Environmental, Inc.
Civil Engineer: Baker and Associates Engineering Inc.
Security Provider: Fortified Security Services
Access Control System: Nokē Smart Entry by Janus International
Management Software System: SiteLink
Roof System Provider: Roofing Southwest, Inc.
Doors and Interior System Provider: Janus International Group
Erica Shatzer is the editor of Modern Storage Media.