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THOUSAND OAKS, CA-A joint venture of the locally based BTE Investment Group and Santa Monica, CA-based William Warren Group received $6.3 million in financing for construction of a $9 million, class-A self-storage facility in this San Fernando Valley city. The partnership plans to break ground on the five-story, 80,000-square-foot project in coming weeks.

The project, which will have 800 climate-controlled storage units, was announced a year ago, with completion anticipated for early this year. But BTE principal Chris Itule says the search for a suitable development partner delayed the launch. “We wanted to work with an experienced operator,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “Working with the city to get the entitlement took a long time. Then it’s just been time consuming to find the right partner. But now that we found that, everything is ready to go.”

The property, which is located at 1000 Skyline Dr., will be branded under Warren Group’s StorQuest Self Storage trademark. The company operates a portfolio of more than 30 StorQuest properties in Arizona, California, Colorado and Hawaii. It intends to grow the number of storage locations by expanding within each of the major metropolitan areas of the western US.

The four-year construction loan was provided by First California Bank of Los Angeles. Though the loan has been in place since the project won approval in April 2008, Itule says the willingness of the bank to hang on through the delay testifies to the project’s desirability. “The ability to execute a loan at attractive terms in the current challenging credit environment reflects the quality of our project as well as our joint venture partner,” he comments.

According to BTE principal Fred Simanek, the city has substantial barriers to entry for self-storage projects because they generate no sales taxes and provide limited employment opportunities. As a result, projects that do make it through approval promise solid returns. “We’re in a market that’s essentially closed to further competition,” he points out. “That’s the kind of market we like.”

The uncertain economic climate also benefits the project, he adds. “Self-storage thrives on flux,” Simanek explains. “Whether the economy is moving up or down doesn’t matter, but right now we’re able to take advantage of people downsizing and needing to store things.”

Itule says he and Simanek are looking for additional opportunities to develop self-storage facilities. They may or may not involve the Warren Group, but Simanek stresses they almost certainly will involve infill locations in higher-density, higher-income communities with similar barriers to entry as those in Thousand Oaks.

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