International Winner – aki KB Minibodegas Alonso Ovalle, Santiago, Chile
Surrounded by the picturesque Andes and Chilean Coast Range mountains, Santiago, Chile, the country’s capital and largest city, has a bustling downtown.
has a population of nearly 5 million. In the heart of its downtown area, centered
on the Plaza de Armas, or city center, on a corner between two major streets, two
blocks away from the presidential palace and within a 15-minute drive from the
city’s main commercial and residential areas, sits aki KB Minibodegas Alonso Ovalle. It is a seven-story, 24-hour
self-storage facility with two underground parking levels. Construction of the $9.5
million facility started in August 2017, and it officially opened for business on
Feb. 1, 2019.
Alan Stehberg, chief operating officer for the facility’s owner, aki KB
Minibodegas SpA, handles daily operations, marketing, and sales for Minibodegas
Alonso Ovalle. The company also has a presence in Chile’s Viña del Mar region, northwest
of Santiago, and in Costa Rica.
“My role was to estimate the demand, define the proper
unit mix, put the facility in operations, [determine] pricing and promotion
strategy, and fill the branch as we projected,” Stehberg says.
The facility was 35.7 percent occupied as of late October 2019.
Obstacles And Technologies The developer faced a variety of challenges with Minibodegas Alonso Ovalle.
“The first challenge was to convince the downtown authorities and
municipality that self-storage adds value to the neighborhood, because they didn’t
want self-storage in the downtown area for traffic, trucks, parking, etc.,” says
Stehberg. “The second challenge was to build successfully in a small piece of
land with many restrictions for being two blocks from the national government palace.”
Among the project’s unique aspects is its “special design and architecture that set with the surrounding area, adding special visual value to that area,” Stehberg notes. “It doesn’t look like a standard self-storage building. Another special issue is the incorporation of new technologies. We incorporated Secure Guard access that allows you to open and manage your units by your mobile phone without keys. That is our new smart floor. Also, we incorporated the VIP floor that incorporated a warm and comfortable carpet.”
Janus International Group, based in the
Atlanta area, provided its electronic lock nokēSmart Entry System for the
project’s doors, hallways, main gate and units.
“I think some of the challenges overall were
working through the labor and installation,” says Christine DeBord, director of
marketing for Janus. “It can be in markets where there’s not as much
established self-storage that finding labor and installation can be difficult.”
The facility’s close proximity to the
presidential palace is unique, and Janus International’s Bluetooth-enabled
mobile app is the first such app being used in a
self-storage facility in South America.
technology includes an access control system provided by PTI Security Systems
of Scottsdale, Ariz.: The Falcon and StorLogix software.
“Our access control system helps facilities
protect their tenants’ property while providing a convenient and reliable means
to access the property,” says Chadwick
Macferran, PTI Security’s director of marketing. “PTI is proud to support aki KB Minibodegas in
delivering a world-class self-storage security solution to their customers.”
SiteLink Software LLC, based in Raleigh, N.C.,
has been running aki Minibodegas’ expanding operation for many years, says
Markus Hecker, SiteLink’s chief client advocate. The company provided the
operations software that manages and tracks Alonso Ovalle’s units, tenants, and
“SiteLink’s investment in aki’s
needs and the Chile market came early on,” Hecker says. “Rolling out SiteLink
at additional stores is easy because we localized SiteLink. We adapted it to
the regional settings including the currency and Spanish language. SiteLink and
its GUI, or graphical user interface, run in Spanish. To date, clients have
requested language translations of the GUI into approximately 20 different
SiteLink’s software is designed to
run on any operating system anywhere in the world. It runs in the language,
shows the currency dictated by the client, and conforms to local self-storage
laws. “We created custom reports and features to accommodate aki’s unique way
of operating and analyzing their storage businesses,” Hecker says. “Custom
reports and data mining for any operator, in any region where SiteLink is
operational today, is one of the program’s many strengths.”
Santiago-based PRO-TG, which provides residential and commercial security systems throughout Chile in industries including mining, renewable energies, and self-storage, created three “security rings” in Minibodegas Alonso Ovalle by combining The Falcon and The StorLogix software systems, states Ruben Caro, PRO-TG’s founder and CEO. The facility’s security system is unusual because it integrates multiple technologies, some of them new to Chile.
solutions were specially tailored to satisfy the client’s needs and equipping
aki KB with a high level of safety,” Caro says. “This fascinating project
involved the design and engineering of video surveillance, calling and
background music, fire detection, and access control systems for the entire
facility. These systems provide multiple benefits for aki KB operations and
their customers. For instance, IP 5K CCTV surveillance allows users to
constantly monitor the premises’ traffic from its salesroom.”
to Caro, the most challenging security aspect on the project was setting up the
elevators through The Falcon system. “They had to be configured such that users
could only access the floor in which their storage unit is located,” he says. “Since
it was the first time a company installed this type of technology in a
self-storage facility, it brought many challenges for our experts.
Nevertheless, our company’s know-how in security matters and the experience
gained from installing multiple security and access control systems to other
customers in the past enabled PRO-TG specialists to effectively integrate this
solution. It is important to note that PRO-TG is the only company installing
PTI’s security solutions in Chile.”
A Brief History According to Stehberg’s written submission for the project’s consideration for the 2019 Facility of the Year International award, architect Arie Rezepka, who founded aki KB Minibodegas in 2003, was motivated to start the company for two main reasons: interest in self-storage facilities expressed by some former clients when he had worked at his family’s industrial development company, Rezepka Development, and the availability of a partner who owned properties ripe for self-storage development.
visited the United States to research self-storage facilities. His company’s
first project was a nearly 27,000-square-foot facility in downtown Santiago. Then
the company developed four more facilities in Chile between 2004 and 2010, two
more in 2013, and another in 2014, which was the biggest in Chile, and a
facility in Costa Rica in 2015.
self-storage development experience put the company in a good position to
develop the Alonso Ovalle facility.
Striking Design Alonso Ovalle’s design took longer than expected, but it has paid off handsomely. “The façade’s final look is amazing, and the interior details of the facility make a big impact on people who visited,” says Stehberg. “The impressive majesty of the building became the main factor moving clients to choose the facility.”
Santiago has some of the city’s highest residential density. Rezepka and the
company’s project manager and commercial and development departments took this
into account when determining Alonso Ovalle’s unit mix. Units range from about
16 square feet to about 355 square feet.
self-storage outfit consisted of orange doors, soffit insulation, and a hallway
network in order to create a clean and well-lighted environment, with parking
and vehicle access,” Stehberg says. “The building has two smart elevators
placed within the facility strategically located to avoid large distances for our
elevators come equipped with an access password to enable customers to go to
the floor that has their unit. A large glass wall in the building’s main corner
allows for a bright lobby. The lobby is decorated with inviting colors, leather
couches, a workstation with a desktop computer, and a kitchenette with coffee
and snacks. It also has free Wi-Fi and a private meeting room for customers.
building’s sixth floor is a VIP floor with wall-to-wall carpeting in the units
and hallways. The facility has three retail stores on the first floor and aki
KB’s sales office on the ground level. All of them have separate access from
the street. Each of the two underground parking levels has separate access and
a separate ramp, stairs, and elevator.
developer chose CVV as the general contractor for construction because of its
extensive experience building residential, commercial, and warehouse projects. Alonso
Ovalle’s main construction challenge had to be addressed at the start of the
process: shifting soil on a small plot of land. The facility’s main structure, seven
above-ground floors and two underground parking levels, is made completely of
panels were placed on the walls and the building’s exterior. Two sides have a
second layer made of steel panels, and two levels have curtain walls, creating
inside luminosity and making visible the corporate orange rolling doors, which along
with the Janus exterior doors and a beige panel gives it a spectacular look that’s
not usual for Chilean self-storage standards. All the final details were
handpicked by Arie himself, along with MW Architects from the international
façade vendor, Hunter Douglas.
Ovalle has a 24-hour security guard; 67 IP CCTV cameras placed throughout the
facility and its surroundings, which can be monitored by a computer or mobile
device; nokē electronic access on second-floor
units; intrusion alarms; automatic vehicle gates; and fire detection systems.
Marketing Minibodegas Style Stehberg mentions that Chile’s self-storage industry is not characterized by big marketing and advertising campaigns, but aki Minibodegas is an exception.
though they are very conscious of the costs invested in marketing, they put a
lot of creativity and boldness on them in order to achieve a high impact under
low costs,” says Stehberg. “Arie and his team took a creative approach and
focused on creating a viral video campaign staring a famous Chilean showman
showing how aki KB can solve day-to-day problems. The videos reach thousands of
people online. Aki KB placed billboards where people can recognize the product,
such as Paseo Bulnes Pedestrian Walkway, making aki KB visible for the huge
pedestrian flow that walk by it every day. This has been instrumental in
generating brand recognition and getting the attention of potential clients.”
recognition efforts include:
Relationships with multifamily developers, armed
forces, banks, loyalty clubs, retail stores, utilities, and others “aiming
straight to specific potential customers: people moving from their house/home.”
Facebook: The company started enhancing its
social media presence in 2013, “transforming it into a source of contact and
diffusion. Today aki KB has over 20,000 fans.”
Google: “Today it is the main source of
diffusion, using AdWords campaigns specifically designed to maximize the
Flyers delivered throughout the city to reach
target customers and placed in the main newspapers in Santiago.
Special discounts to boost occupancy and
referral campaigns to gain new customers from existing ones.
Mailings and online survey: “Personalized
welcome, gratitude, and happy birthday greetings sent to every client.”
Alonso Ovalle officially opened in February
2019, but aki Minibodegas held a grand opening with local businesspeople, local
celebrities, politicians, and long-term customers designed to improve
relationships with vendors, real estate companies, and local institutions.
Chilean Innovation Aki KB Minibodegas has a reputation for creativity, Stehberg says, and it’s exemplified by services including:
• Online chat
on its website, where clients can ask for help or a quote and manage invoices
Technological security using Janus International security solutions.
• A VIP floor in its facilities—a first in Latin America.
• A partnership with AWTO, the biggest per-hour car rental service in Chile.
aki KB After Alonso Ovalle “Although the brand is already positioned as an industry leader, Arie and his partners’ thirst to ﬁnd new ways to improve the industry are not easy to appease,” Stehberg says.
In fact, the
company already has plans for three new self-storage facilities with nearly
194,000 square feet of combined rentable storage space by 2020.
“The new additions to the portfolio will increase the company’s leadership in an international level,” Stehberg adds. “More than a self-storage company, aki KB improves the quality of life.”
Facility Owner: aki KB Minibodegas SpA Facility management: aki KB Minibodegas S.P.A. Architects: MW Arquitectos, Providencia, Santiago General Contractor,Exterior Walls, Roof, and Glass Walls: Claro Vicuña Valenzuela Company (CVV), Santiago Geotechnical: BRAC Engineering, Macul, Santiago Hallway and door system: Janus International Group, Temple, Georgia; PTI Security System, Scottsdale, Arizona Low voltage systems: PRO-TG, Santiago Management Software: SiteLink Software LLC, Raleigh, North Carolina
Jerry LaMartina is a freelance reporter and editor based in Shawnee, Kansas.