The Old Joins the New in a Self Storage Facility in Pittsburgh

Posted on Mar 25 2013 - 6:23pm by Kim Kilpatrick

Entrepreneurs see needs and then grab the opportunity to build a business to fill that need.  That is exactly what Nick Lackner, general manager of City Center Self Storage, did. He saw a need for a storage facility close to downtown Pittsburgh. However, there wasn’t one. So, he set about to rectify the situation.

Lackner’s team drew up a list of criteria that the facility had to meet. It had to be close to the downtown area but not so close that parking and congestion would conflict with customers accessing their belongings in their units. They wanted a facility with a low carbon footprint because they were concerned about the environment. They also wanted a climate-controlled facility. And last, they wanted a building that could ‘grow’ as the business grew.

That was a tall order to fill.

Real estate professionals claimed that City Center Self Storage would have to build a new facility to get what they wanted. However, Lackner found the perfect building for the storage business – the historic Pittsburgh Terminal Warehouse and Transfer Company building.

During its construction, the Pittsburgh Terminal Warehouse and Transfer Company kept two independently owned brickyards working full-time to supply the needed amount of bricks. Completed in 1906, the complex had three buildings and cost over a million dollars. 

At that time, it was the largest and one of the busiest warehouses between New York and Chicago.  In a typical one-year period, the cold storage area accommodated 23 million pounds of commodities. It also handled 350-400 million pounds of general merchandise in the general warehouse section.

Known today as the River Walk Corporate Center, different companies have remodeled sections of the warehouses for their business. Printing companies, non-profit organizations, architects, and designers have office space there. Now, City Center Self Storage has joined their ranks.

Currently, City Self Storage has 85 storage units ranging in size from 5’ x 5’ up to 10’ x 20’. They have capacity to fill 120,000 square feet on four floors.

The walls of the City Center Self Storage conference room sport historical photographs of the early days of the building. There is also a collection of turn-of-the century postcards from visitors to Pittsburgh. 

The Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Board Meeting unanimously approved the River Walk Corporate Center to be placed on the National Historic Registry. The National Registry will make the final decision whether or not to include the warehouse on their list of historical sites.

Sources Used:

“City Center Self Storage Built On History.” The Storage Facilitator; 5 March 2013.

“Built for big times.”  Post Gazette; 20 December 2012.

City Center Self Storage.