In an attempt to cater to high-net-worth customers, self-storage facilities can go overboard with amenities and find themselves in a precarious financial position. This seems to be exactly the case in regard to Marvin Chaney’s RoboVault LLC, a Fort Lauderdale self-storage facility that filed for Chapter 11 protection in bankruptcy court last week. Built for $22 million in 2009, RoboVault recently fell behind on their $20 million bank loan from Bank Atlantic.
Marketed as an ultra-secure, hurricane-resistant facility with museum-quality climate control, RoboVault’s business model has more in common with Blockbuster films like Blade Runner and The Minority Report than with traditional self-storage facilities.
Explaining his facility to WTVJ NBC Miami back in 2009, Founder and CEO Chaney said: “A client is able to come up to the building, enter one of seven bays, drive in, and then – through a biometric scan – bring their contents down from above.” In addition to entering a PIN number into an outdoor kiosk, RoboVault tenants must swipe an access card and pass a retinal (eyeball) scan in order to access their storage unit. While the retinal scan is an impressive feature, it’s hard to imagine the installation and maintenance costs justify the added security value for tenants.
In a similar vein, RoboVault boasts “robotic storage,” a 70-ton robotic retrieval system which transports tenants’ cars and belongings to them without any human assistance. When a tenant stores a vehicle, they drive onto a platform at the base of the robotic system, which then transports the vehicle to a climate-controlled storage unit.
In addition to offering protection against category-5 hurricane winds up to 185 mph, RoboVault also offers other unparalleled amenities, such as white glove art handling, streaming video access to storage units, and premium vehicle service. Set on 2.4 acres, RoboVault’s high-tech facility has 408 units, many of which are vacant.
Although this facility was designed to cater to millionaires with exotic cars, fine art, precious metals, forensic evidence, safety deposit boxes, and vintage wine, I can’t help but wonder if there is a market for this demographic. Do the wealthy need to store their most precious belongings in offsite storage facilities, even if the facility has security features like retinal scans? With RoboVault in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, it definitely remains to be seen.
Photo courtesy of luxist.com