Not your grandfather’s storage (Part 1)


From print version:

Husband and wife developers Bruce and Kim Raskin spent the better part of 2017 filtering feedback of their proposed self-storage facility at 525 w. Turney Avenue.

The duo’s design team updated the Encanto Village Planning Committee Monday night of their progress, and the panel voted 12-2 in their favor.

It was the first of three hearings slated for the project over the next two months.

The proposed 90k-square-foot facility, which will feature a prominent cylindrical entrance and vibrant materials, will stand four stories tall, about one block east of 7th Avenue.

It will neighbor new apartments, a dance club, a market, condos, and single-family homes.

The Raskins raised eyebrows for their unique response to neighborhood objections last spring.

They hired three local design firms to collect input from area activists, and then presented to a panel of neighborhood leaders during a charette style design competition in August.

Renderings varied in color and materials, and each proposed public event or work space.

As presented Monday, the project includes about 2k square feet the public can rent for events.

“I wish everything (the Committee) went through could be this way” said Encanto member Rebecca Wininger. “That a developer would meet with the neighborhood and ask ‘is there something that we could include to improve the area?”

Wininger was one of the judges at the charette in August, and represents the committee on the Phoenix Planning Commission.

She voted in favor of the project.

Originally from the Seattle area, the Raskins have developed several commercial and residential properties between Phoenix and Scottsdale.

They said they invested in The Melrose District because of its unique tapestry of middle century homes, mom-and-pop shops, and the boon of new, market rate apartments opening in central Phoenix.

The couple sat down with the writer of This Melrose Life for an interview in August.

“Things are changing and evolving which is really exciting,” said Kim Raskin. “(Melrose) has a cool, hip urban feeling.”

raskins property current

At first, they planned to repurpose the existing, 13k-sqaure-foot vacant structure, which was built in the 1970’s, into an indoor gym.

Disagreements with an end user tenant, as well the current building’s deterioration changed their minds.

“New storage isn’t like your grandfather’s storage,” Bruce explained in August. “There’s a growing demand with people moving back into the cities.”

Over a thousand storage units already exist on the Melrose Mile, and at least six facilities are within a two-mile radius. Most are near capacity, and all are over twenty years old.

“Not all storage is created equal,” Bruce said. “We’re talking about a state of the art facility.”

Still, several nearby residents object to the use.

“(Storage) will not significantly create jobs,” wrote Brianna Klink in a letter filed with the City. “These facilities are ubiquitous to the area.”

She said Monday night she and several neighbors had not been asked for input.

“We weren’t invited to vote and we live 800 feet away,” said Will Gardner. “Definitely no one wants storage.”

Chanel Godwin grew up in Melrose-Woodlea and lives across the street from the current site.

“I’m glad my tree hides the ugliness,” she said in an August interview. “I want more art and less abandoned building.”

She did not oppose storage, but said she had not been contacted.

“I’m concerned about the traffic and the way it looks,” said Palmer Challela, another Turney Ave resident in August. “This is a nice, residential, and historical neighborhood.”

A retired engineer, Challela has lived on Turney for about two decades.

“I’d prefer something else,” he said. “But storage seems fairly innocuous.”

The Raskins did not speak at Monday’s hearing, but were represented by their attorney.

“The reason there are so many self-storage facilties in this area is because of the type of homes,” Said Jason Morris, of Withey Morris P.L.C. “The facilities that are already here are old, outdated, and not a competition for this type of use.”

Stacy Louis owns the dance club Stacy’s @ Melrose adjacent to the Raskins’ property.

“I’m very concerned about the parking,” he said before the meeting. “It could effect my business.”

Louis has been renting extra spaces from the Raskins and said he doesn’t object to storage, so long as his patrons can park at night.

Traffic was brought up several times at the meeting, but few specifics were shared.

The storage facility will not be open 24 hours, Morris told the Committee.

A City zoning administrator determined self-storage is allowed within the Seventh Avenue Main Street Overlay zone, but the Council must approve both a special-use permit and height waiver to build to 56 feet as planned.

The City of Phoenix Planning Commission will vote on the project January 4, and a final City Council Hearing is planned in February.