Living in the car capital of the world, it is not uncommon to see an eclectic mix of some of the rarest classic and exotic automobiles in the world at your local coffee shop or restaurant.
Not only are these automobiles rare but so are the spaces to store them. Even in the most exclusive Southern California neighborhoods, garage space has become a commodity. Storing these high-dollar toys next to the family SUV and the children’s bicycles is not the ideal scenario.
As these collections grow beyond the extra parking spaces at home, there is a real challenge to find a suitable facility that is both convenient and safe. Many collectors have settled for sharing warehouse spaces in industrial parks mixed with contractors, gyms, and other industrial uses. Unfortunately mixing collector cars and work trucks has not been the best scenario. Others have found shared car storage facilities, but these garages lack the privacy and security of a dedicated space exclusive to your toys and collectibles.
A new trend that has been building momentum in the car collector world over the past few years is the Car Condo. These facilities are dedicated exclusively to car storage and the hobby. Car condos have been springing up all over, from the ultra high-end Park Place near Fort Lauderdale to the private racetrack facilities at The Thermal Club east of Palm Springs, California, the Autobahn Country Club outside Chicago, Monticello Motor Club in upstate New York, and the M1 Concourse in Detroit.
These facilities offer a wide range of automobile experiences from exclusive storage space to full-blown racing on their private tracks. These facilities have become the car collector’s ultimate dream.
Even with these projects popping up around the country, the Los Angeles area has been relatively ignored from this standpoint due to the scarcity of suitable properties and rising real estate values. Many suitable locations are developed into higher density uses, like multi-story mixed-use projects or creative office developments. The remaining industrial sites are generally too large for the smaller collector to consider.
Westlake Village developer T.R. Funding decided to test this market in 2008 by converting a 40,000-square-foot industrial park in nearby Thousand Oaks into small, saleable units. The development sold out quickly with 26 out of 31 units selling to car collectors throughout the region. These owners each created their own “man caves” that complimented their unique taste and collections. The project was a big success and is thoroughly enjoyed by the owners.
“I would have to say that owning a car condo brings a whole new experience to motoring enthusiasts whereas before my cars were simply stored at my home between kids’ sports gear and everything else accumulated over the years,” says Westlake Village resident and car condo owner Chris O’Brien. “By owning a car condo, I now have a separate environment for the culture I love that is dedicated to the love of motoring, perhaps the best second home I could think of with lifestyle built in. In addition you can think of it as a place to house appreciating assets.”
Because of the success of the Thousand Oaks project and the continued demand for these specialized collector car storage units, T.R. Funding has made plans to open two Finish Line Auto Storage facilities in Calabasas and Westlake Village and is eyeballing projects in the LA area and other sites further south
(finishlineautostorage.com). The Calabasas project is a 33,000-square-foot ground up development and is schedule for a completion date in the summer of 2017. The development will have 23 units ranging from 1,200 sf to 2,000 sf or combinations thereof. The project in Westlake Village is a conversion of an existing 34,000-square-foot facility and has a target completion for the first phase of the third quarter of this year. The second phase will consist of approximately 25,000 sf and will commence in 2017. Both phases will have roughly 40 units once completed.
T.R. Funding has an extensive list of interested buyers for both projects and will continue to accept names up to the point of the projects’ opening dates.
These new facilities will be exclusively dedicated to car collectors and will provide such amenities as:
- Secured gated access
- Video surveillance cameras
- Common area restrooms and shower facilities
- A private clubhouse
- Designated auto wash and detail areas
- Dedicated enclosed car trailer for its owners to use
The units range in size from 1,200 square feet and up; they have up to 26-foot ceilings, abundant power for garage lifts and custom lighting, and complete exclusivity from sharing the space adjacent to the typical heavy industrial uses or the family SUV. The projects will also host special member events such as Cars and Coffee, garage and driving tours, and even viewings of Formula 1 Races or sports events in the exclusive Members Only clubhouse.
One of the big attractions of the Car Condo is the ability for the collector to purchase their space instead of the traditional lease. In addition to providing all of the benefits of ownership, such as depreciation write-off, principal reduction of the loan, potential for appreciation in value and pride of ownership, the buyer can customize the space to their liking without the risk of a landlord jacking up their rent or even worse, kicking them out at the end of the lease term. Financing is readily available from most banks, so the initial capital outlay can be minimal if a buyer elects to go that route. About half of the buyers at the Thousand Oaks project paid cash for their units and the balance financed their purchases.
Car condos give the collector the opportunity to store one appreciating asset in another and enjoy creating a custom environment that compliments the owner’s style and collection.
For more information on these car storage facilities, contact Tony Principe at Westcord Commercial Estate Services at 805/497.4557 x236