The booming art market has grown increasingly global over the last decade and a half, and that tide has been good for the art storage business. Now, UOVO, a nascent art storage company—which opened its flagship facility in Long Island City, Queens, in late 2014—is adding to that trend, announcing that it will open a fourth space in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
“We’re really excited about Bushwick, it has a lot of energy,” UOVO CEO Steve Novenstein told artnet News. “It has a really vibrant artists community. There is a lot of development there, and we feel like we fit into that really well.”
The new building will open in fall 2019 and boasts 150,000 square feet of climate-controlled storage, as well as private viewing rooms, and a digital inventory system. Other perks touted by the company include a location outside FEMA flood zones, 20-foot ceilings on all floors, four fully enclosed loading docks, and a client cafe.
Novenstein says UOVO is taking a “holistic” approach to storage that aims to serve customers in different ways. “It’s not just a storage facility. We try to be a one-stop shop when it comes to solving customer needs, whether it’s having something crated, or shipping something, or setting up a viewing room.”
To achieve that goal, UOVO has partnered with other specialist vendors—like international shippers—and expanded in-house services, according to the CEO. For instance, the company recently invested in its own tractor-trailer for transporting monumental artworks.
In addition to the Bushwick spaces, the company also operates two storage facilities north of Manhattan in Rockland County. At 280,000 square feet, the flagship Long Island City facility is UOVO’s largest while the Rockland facilities are 150,000 and 100,000 square feet, respectively.
The various storage locations cater to different needs, according to Novenstein. “The cost-effective way is to store in Rockland,” he says. “However, some clients want to be able to take a subway to Long Island City because their registrar wants to go look at a piece of art, or they might want to see something in a viewing room, or a dealer might want to do a mock-up for a show.”
Having completed a number of large-scale building projects in a relatively short period of time, the learning curve has been steep for the company. Citing one example, Novenstein says, “We’ve learned the best ways to insulate the building before you even add climate control so that you can keep the humidity and climate stable.”
Other tweaks have come in response to their own growth. In Long Island City, Novenstein says the company didn’t realize how many people would be using the facility daily. Having serviced 1,350 clients since opening in December 2014, managers realized that a whopping 6,000 people had visited the facility. So, they turned a viewing room into a client cafe where people could charge their phones, work, eat, or enjoy a cold brew.
“Every time you go through a project you learn something new,” Novenstein says, “whether its security or climate or door heights.”
UOVO’s approach to growth is closely tied to the vision of founder and real estate impresario Steven Guttman, who is himself a seasoned art collector. Asked about the increasingly competitive landscape for fine art storage—including ARCIS’s recently opened “free trade zone” in Harlem—Novenstein says the company isn’t concerned.
“We’re focused only on New York and feel like we have the right team and it continues to get better,” he told artnet News. “That sets us apart along with owning our real estate and having a long-term view.”
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