Old Air Force Hanger in Denver Converts into Unique and Sustainable Self Storage Facility

Posted on Jul 5 2011 - 5:25pm by John Stevens

A unique conversion of an old Air Force hanger into a self storage facility is underway in Denver, Colo.  The design layout in the massive hanger consists of 65,000 sq. ft. of storage in 600 units which will be combined with restaurants, retail and office space, giving the complex a distinct marketing advantage.

Hanger 2 is part of the Lowry Air Force Base redevelopment, which comprises two main hangers, the other of which houses the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum. Hanger 2 is being jointly developed by Hanger 2 Partners (H2P), an innovative development team of Hartman Ely Investments (HEI) and Larimer Associates.  Established in 1938, the base was built to house an Air Force Training School and Lowry was heavily involved in the training of U.S. bomber crews and flight engineers during WWII. Before moving to its permanent site in Colorado Springs, the U.S. Air Force Academy used the base from 1954 to 1958. President Eisenhower was even known to have spent some vacation time at the Lowry base.

Although Hanger 2 is an unusual setting for a self storage conversion, H2P chose it for four distinct reasons:

• High market demand and barrier to entry for self-storage in the area
• Relatively low construction cost inside an existing hangar shell
• Low parking demand (parking was much needed for other areas of the development)
• Only minor changes necessary to the historic exterior facades

Self-storage consulting veteran Jim Chiswell, president of Chiswell & Associates LLC, was contacted to work on the project said he was quickly convinced of the projects feasibility.

“I quickly discovered the Hangar 2 team had an inspired mixed-use vision of the property’s repurposing that was truly unique for a self-storage conversion,” Chiswell said. “Despite the surrounding competition, it was quickly evident the facility would be serving primarily the Lowry community. All my research pointed to a market opportunity with extremely high barriers to any further entry.”

The connection of storage walls, roofing and other components to the atypical shape and size of the building caused some significant challenges for Rabco Corp. and Janus International, the supplier of hallway components and roll-up doors, as they didn’t always match up with a typical 10-foot module. With a roof peak of 90 feet, temperature control was also a factor. Rabco brought down the roof system to harness the temperature from 12 feet and lower, the optimal cubic space for the project’s climate-controlled storage.

The H2P team discovered that protecting tenants from the rain, snow or sun provides a unique marketing advantage and incorporated a drive-through unloading corridor that protects customers from the elements.  The converted facility will also be unique in that it will take advantage of solar energy. More than 500 solar panels were installed on the roof by Martifer Solar. The three rows of panels were designed to replicate the look of the old hangar’s skylights, preserving some of the building’s history.  The photovoltaic panels are expected to provide about a third of the energy required to run the building. The project incorporates energy-efficient lighting, heat controls, motion-sensor light switches and premium insulation.

Sources Used:

“Former U.S. Air Force Base Converts to Mixed-Use Sustainable Self-Storage Project in Denver.” Inside Self-Storage. July 2, 2011.

Denver Urban Renewal Authority. July 2011.