Entrepreneurs Alex Rozkin and Vitali Barkouski recently seized an opportunity to create a self-storage facility surrounded by a million-dollar view. The two Russian immigrants and longtime friends knew there was a shortage of truck and bus parking in the San Francisco Bay Area, so they leased some land on the manmade Treasure Island, smack-dab in the middle of the Bay Bridge.
“One of our key business points is that when we started Island Park Storage, we called up a whole bunch of storage yards and most of them were sold out,” Rozkin said. “We’re capitalizing on the lack of capacity.”
They’re also capitalizing on the scenery and the proximity to two major U.S. cities. Island Park Storage’s setting boasts breathtaking views of the San Francisco skyline and the entire San Francisco Bay.
The open space on Treasure Island is one of the biggest advantages.
— Alex Rozkin, co-founder, Island Park Storage
It’s located just seven minutes from downtown San Francisco and 15 minutes from downtown Oakland, making it appealing to thousands of customers. Of course, those time estimates don’t account for the frequent traffic jams that snarl the highly congested bridge, which carries about 270,000 cars a day.
Still, the outdoor drive-in, self-storage location might be ideal for some. Plus, Rozkin said, Island Park Storage is less expensive than its competitors.
“First thing we did was figure out how much everybody else charges,” Rozkin said. “We realized right away that we could be a bit cheaper than the companies in San Francisco and more expensive than companies in the East Bay. Our real estate here is cheaper, too.”
Open Space for Storage
Island Park Storage was launched in January 2014. Already, tour buses, shuttles, limos, RVs, cars and outdoor storage containers of various sizes dot the 2-acre strip of land. Pricing ranges from $90 for a basic car to $280 for a big bus.
“The open space on Treasure Island is one of the biggest advantages,” Rozkin said. “Other bus parking lots don’t have this kind of space. It’s much more compact. Other people don’t have a 40-foot pullout like we have.”
Island Park Storage also offers self-storage containers in 10-, 20- and 40-foot-deep and 8-foot-wide dimensions. The compartments start at $150 a month and go up to $330 a month. Rozkin noted that the outside storage containers are waterproof, despite sitting on the grass.
“We have a 50-50 mix between residential and business customers,” Rozkin said.
Island Park Storage relies on a blend of inbound and outbound marketing to attract customers. Rozkin said the company is active on Facebook, Google and Yelp.
“We’re cold-calling a lot of companies and sending out direct mailers, too,” Rozkin said. “Our biggest expense is advertising right now.”
A Treasured History
One thing is for sure—you can’t put a price tag on the island’s rich history. Treasure Island was completed in 1937, soon after the Bay Bridge opened in November 1936. Treasure Island got its name from the legend that the San Francisco Bay’s mud was filled with gold. It originally was a site for the 1939-40 World’s Fair and later became a naval base and satellite air facility.
“What attracts businesses to Treasure Island is the affordable rent, location … and the view factor,” said Mirian Saez, director of operations for Treasure Island.
Island Park Storage likely sits on land that was a training classroom for a school, Saez said. Nowadays, wineries, artists, nonprofits and entrepreneurs mingle with the 2,000 residents of the 365-acre island, which also is home to buildings in various stages of decay.
Get Your Motor Running
Island Park Storage isn’t only used for storage, though. The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) trains its motorcycle cops on Rozkin and Barkouski’s leased land. To be clear, SFPD was using the vacant space before Island Park Storage opened.
“This is our training facility for the motorcycle officers from San Francisco PD,” said Officer Steve Glickman, one of the department’s state-certified motorcycle instructors.
Island Park Storage has a cement lane running in between two wide strips of grass, where the stored commercial and private vehicles park. SFPD uses the cement lane for training drills.
“This is a 40-mile-an-hour braking course,” Glickman said. “They have to show the proper braking and bike control in 83 feet. Proper braking means no locking up, no skidding, no crashing. This is an on-duty facilitating course.”
Rozkin pointed out that SFPD has an agreement with Island Park Storage to use the facility’s roadway for training. Glickman said SFPD motorcycle cops train four days a week during an eight-week program.
As for the future of Island Park Storage, Rozkin said he and Barkouski plan to replace the locked perimeter fence with an automatic gate and hope to lease more land across the street. They’re also working on getting approval for a carport. The self-storage containers may provide a dual purpose down the line, too—as rooftop organic gardens.
For now, Rozkin and Barkouski will continue to field requests—no matter how strange they are—about their unique storage facility.
“A guy from Australia wanted to park his RV and live here for a month. He didn’t understand why he couldn’t,” Rozkin said.
Photos by Janet Haney