Suite Life Magazine
Room to Play: The new Signature Storage Suites offers even more space for car/RV enthusiasts and other hobbyists to pursue their passions Room to Play: The new Signature Storage Suites offers even more space for car/RV enthusiasts and other hobbyists to pursue their passions
  Scott Allan knows it’s possible to make a big impact in a small area. When he founded his Fort Myers-based, full-service construction and... Room to Play: The new Signature Storage Suites offers even more space for car/RV enthusiasts and other hobbyists to pursue their passions


Scott Allan knows it’s possible to make a big impact in a small area. When he founded his Fort Myers-based, full-service construction and development firm Allan Development Group (ADG) in 2016, he decided to concentrate on the Iona-McGregor submarket and Alico corridor.

“If you draw a seven-mile radius around my office, we work there to keep quality control and efficiency as our top priority,” he says. Since the inception of the company, ADG has developed more than $250 million in new projects within that radius in the residential and indus­trial sectors. Armed with its own crews and staff, the company mitigates costs by eliminating excessive subcontracting.

“I wanted to separate the company from the industry standard and realized that employing talented administrative staff and field craftsmen would lead to unlimited work by way of high-quality results,” he says. “Brant Kotel is my partner and the owner of the general contractor license for Bayside Building, the exclusive general contractor to Allan Development Group. Brant is a master carpenter, visionary and the best in the business, and I knew we had to work together after experiencing a big job we did together in 2005. Very few construc­tion companies have the structure that we do.”

As he socialized with people in the area from a variety of backgrounds, Al­lan began hearing a common challenge. A lot of snowbirds, retirees and other new residents of the area had difficulties pursuing an interest in cars or other hob­bies that require space, something they might not have experienced in other parts of the country where larger properties and barns are more common.

“Mostly men would make sarcastic complaints that there are only so many rounds of golf they could play,” says Al­lan. “No matter the size of their home in Florida, garage space was extremely limited. The majority of these guys were very blue collar and were self-made suc­cess stories who made a living using their hands. They needed workspace as part of their lifestyle to keep their brains working.”

He saw an opportunity, but others didn’t quite share his vision at first. “I came home and told my wife, ‘I think I need to build a community of man caves,’” says Allan. “And it became a train of people telling me I was crazy, starting with my wife, who gave me cau­tious support. Not a single banker would even entertain lending on such a concept, and none of my investors who provided capital to my business in the past were really excited about it.

“Perhaps they didn’t understand the concept,” he continues. “I was 37 years old at the time, and how do you think people perceived the idea of working with me on a $12 million, speculative, man cave project?”

Allan knew exactly what the poten­tial was, and he started with 24 garage-style storage units on a piece of property on Pine Ridge Road. His original 24 units increased to 68 units spread out over 120,000sf called Island Storage Suites, and units sold out faster than he could build them.

“I knew that if I could find reason­ably priced land within three miles inside the Iona-McGregor submarket, that the future man caves would be just minutes from the most high-priced real estate in the vicinity, full of (affluent) homeown­ers who would jump at an opportunity to own one,” he says.

And there’s more to come with his next project, Signature Storage Suites. “This is my third and final man cave development, and I have partnered with one of my mentors and very close friends, Tom Torgerson, CEO of TPI Hospitality and developer of Margaritaville on Fort Myers Beach,” he says. “Tom and I share a vision in this community of lifestyle enhancements and also share similar business goals and ambitions. That in combination with our close friendship made it a simple decision that we could do something special together.”

Signature Storage Suites will include 70 units spread out over five buildings with 165,000sf of total space. The first building is under construction and sched­uled for completion this summer.

Hurricane Ian caused some delays with the project, which had started pre­sales during the summer of 2022. “We had almost 60% of the units pre-sold,” says Allan. “Then came Hurricane Ian, which wiped out all but nine of our reser­vations. We lost nearly 30 deals largely as the result of our prospects losing literally everything to the storm. Pursuing a man cave at this point was not a priority, and we don’t blame them one bit for it.”

The project was taken off the market for a while as the developers realized they would be delayed while Lee County prioritized storm-related permits. Shortly after the storm, major increases in con­struction costs and new FEMA height requirements nearly killed the project. But given the continued demand, Al­lan Development Group felt confident enough to continue pursuing it.

“We decided to work with LSI to help us bring our vision to a broader market,” says Allan. “We’re creeping back toward where we were pre-storm and hoping to get there by the end of this season.”

Remaining units range from 1,700sf to 2,250sf and are priced from $375,000 to the low $500,000s. “If you have the need for a lot of space, you can buy contiguous units as long as we have the contiguous space available,” says Allan. “We have owners with two or three units, depending on how many cars and toys they have.”

Buyers have the ability to personalize their units, with options including kitch­enettes, wet bars, full baths with showers, and mezzanines. “They become sports bars or lounges or whatever different unique ideas people have,” says Allan. “I’ve got a 115-inch TV in my unit and a full bar, and it’s really become the sports bar of choice for my family and friends.”

The site plan has been designed so that owners can pull into their unit through a garage door and then have sliders or French doors on the back wall, with many units overlooking the property’s three ponds. “You can build a patio out back and have a waterfront barbecue area outside of your unit over­looking a well-manicured landscape that we’re going to add fountains and LED lighting to,” says Allan.

And though “man cave” is a common shorthand, Signature Storage Suites and Island Storage Suites aren’t just for the guys. According to Allan, female owners call their units “she-sheds, babe-caves or diva-dens.”

Four-legged friends are also welcome, and Signature Storage Suites will have areas for dog walking and exercise. Ad­ditional amenities will include an on-site, self-service car wash, an air and vacuum station, and a blackwater dumping sta­tion for RVs and boats.

The storage suites are governed by a condo association whose board members are elected by the owners. Monthly dues come in at about $250 a month and in­clude water, high-speed internet, a secu­rity gate and other property maintenance, and building insurance.

Owners at Island Storage Suites enjoy that it’s easy to socialize with folks who share their passions. “I’ve been told by many people that it’s probably extended their life by a few years to be able to have some fun, continue their hobbies and meet other like-minded people,” says Allan. “It gets their brains more active instead of just sitting around.”

Joe Jenkins was one of the first purchasers at Island Storage Suites, and he uses his unit to store and work on his collection of restored hot rods. “It’s become a community of people that are mostly retired and like-minded,” he says. “We have similar interests. If I don’t have a tool, one of my neighbors does, and vice versa. It’s a fun deal; it’s like a frat for old guys.”

With room for six cars plus a bar, seating area, bathroom and big-screen TVs, Jenkins’ unit is also a place where he and his wife can entertain. “I play on a couple of tennis teams, and whenever it comes to our year-end parties, the team votes that they want to go to ‘Joe’s Garage,’” says Jenkins. “We have had a number of parties there. It’s just a lot of fun. Other people entertain at their homes or the club; this is just a com­pletely different concept.”

In fact, Island Storage Suites has developed a following for its twice-a-year Mayhem at the Mancaves event, which features live music, a cigar roller, and plenty of food and drink. The site also hosts numerous fundraiser events throughout the year.

“The owners open up their doors to show off what they’ve got, and it’s im­pressive,” says Allan. “For visitors who don’t own units, it usually takes just one experience over here to convince them that they, too, need to own one. The lifestyle experience is what takes them over the top.”

Island Storage Suites made it through Hurricane Ian with no structural damage and zero damage to owners’ contents. Signature Storage Suites will feature the same kind of steel-reinforced metal building design and sit two feet higher than Island Storage Suites due to new FEMA elevation requirements.

“I actually rode out Ian in my unit with my family, and I have to brag about our garage doors,” says Allan. “They’re expensive, but they’re hurricane rated. A lot of developers won’t use these doors because they’re so expensive, but I believe if we hadn’t used those doors with the way the wind was whipping in our direc­tion, the doors could have caved in, and the roof would have blown off. I designed these buildings and our infrastructure to withstand any potential severe weather elements, and our condition after the hurricane was a huge testament.”

Security of all kinds is important to both Allan and his owners, and the stor­age suite sites deliver on that aspect. “It’s totally secure,” says Jenkins. “We go back north for the summer, and I don’t worry about it. There are cameras everywhere and it’s all gated.”

“It’s all very discreet,” says Allan. “Not a lot of people know what’s in the garages, and we like to keep it that way despite being on a fairly busy corridor.”