ManCaves In The News

Man caves no longer just an in-home sanctuary, but an away-from-home storage unit

Published by Jennifer Brown for the Denver Post |
November 18, 2016
Read the original article here! Storage Units Turned Into Man Caves

It’s the ultimate man cave: two leather couches in front of a 100-inch flat screen, a stocked beer fridge, a popcorn machine and two high-top tables surrounded by bar stools. On the walls — one loft-style brick and the others rustic wood — hang Broncos jerseys signed by John Elway and Peyton Manning, plus a collection of neon lights sporting beer logos. A Broncos-orange coffee maker with Super Bowl mugs sits on the wet bar.

This sweet set-up isn’t a den or a basement. It’s a storage unit.

“Man caves” inside homes have been around for years, male retreats growing ever more elaborate with multiple televisions, gym equipment and even bowling lanes and golf simulators. But the latest fad in man caves is owning one away from home, in nondescript storage unit complexes throughout metro Denver and beyond. From the outside, they look like over-sized storage space, large enough to fit at least one motor home, but open the garage door and find male-centered sanctuaries filled with sports cars and possibly a loft that rivals a neighborhood pub.

Developers can’t seem to build them fast enough. The craze has taken off, offering people — mostly guys, though women are among the owners — a place to store their sports cars, boats, motorcycles and snowmobiles, but also a place to chill away from home. About 10 storage condo complexes have opened in the Denver metro area in recent years, and two others are in development. They range from the less-expensive, heated garage with a mini fridge to the upscale, two-story bachelor pad with a full kitchen and living room.

At the higher end in Denver is ManCaves, located next to the Broncos’ Dove Valley practice facility and includes a former Nuggets player among its condo owners (ManCaves developers don’t want to say which NBA player to protect his privacy). It opened a year ago with 64 units and currently has just four that haven’t sold. The units are selling for $165 per square foot now, up from $138 last year. They range from 400 to 1,400 square feet, and run about $200,000 for the largest units.
“The economy is good and people have been accumulating toys,” said Terry Staples, a developer who specialized in ski-in, ski-out mountain properties before opening ManCaves with co-developer Jack Koson. “It’s an extension of their garage and of their den.”

“You can fix them up like your extended living room. You can’t live here. You can pass out here for the night, but you can’t live here.”

At least half of the owners at ManCaves are “car guys.” A few use the space to park luxury motor homes and fifth-wheels, and a couple are storing business inventory. They often hire an architect and a contractor after buying a unit. It wasn’t the cheapest units that sold first — people wanted “the biggest and baddest unit they could buy,” said Mark Whiting, sales broker for ManCaves. “They have a half-million-dollar Cobra to tuck away,” he said. “They want to be next to people who think like they do.”

The property is gated and under camera surveillance. Inside the owners’ lounge, the fridge holds two kinds of scotch. There’s whiskey and Oreos in the kitchen cabinets, and the flat-screen TV has the NFL cable package.

“I don’t think Terry and Jack intended to create something that would ever be called a fraternity, but that’s what it’s become,” Whiting said.

Just down the road is 20-acre Dove Valley Storage, a more traditional storage unit complex that now has 90 “man-cave units.” A smaller man cave, a “single wide,” runs about $85,000, up from $62,000 in 2008, said managing partner Kim Hunt, who calls his units the “affordable option,” though the “sky is the limit on the inside.”

“Wives are a driving force for the man-cave market because wives want to have their garages back,” Hunt said.

He’s expanding to build more units in a now-vacant field adjacent to his complex. The market is hot.

GarageTown, with three Colorado locations, advertises itself online as “not your dad’s storage unit,” with photos of hot rods and an indoor basketball court. Vehicle Vault in Parker offers garage condos “designed in the spirit of a country club village,” a community of collectors and motorsports enthusiasts. GarageUnitz north of Denver in Dacono also caters to the car collector.

The developers of ManCaves hope to open more locations along the Front Range, and possibly stretching south to Las Vegas. Developers in Dallas, Tulsa and Cheyenne, among other places, have asked for their advice in the last year, and a Texas developer has since opened his own version of ManCaves in Dallas.

ManCaves’ developers bought the land near the Broncos practice facility after hearing that a relative who wanted to store toys in Park City couldn’t find a garage unit. They trace the origins of the man-cave trend to a boat storage complex in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, followed by the opening about a decade ago of the AutoMotorPlex in Minnesota for people whose “passion has outgrown” their garages.

For Rob Kniss, a professional motocross racer, “keeping a lower profile at home” was one of the reasons he wanted a garage condo. His 16-by-47-foot unit at Dove Valley Storage holds race bikes, a jeep and usually a few snowmobiles. “It’s just to keep it away from the house,” said Kniss, who doesn’t have room for it all at home in Cherry Creek North. On a recent warm day, his orange Jeep was “torn apart” in the unit as he prepared to replace the axles.

A coalition of garage condo complex developers has tried unsuccessfully the last three years to get Colorado lawmakers to zone the units as residential property rather than commercial, which would cut taxes for owners. Such a change is fair, developers say, because the man-cave segment of the storage-unit business has evolved into an extension of people’s homes, where owners pay owners’ association dues for water and trash removal.

“It’s mushroomed into a lifestyle,” Hunt said.