Do you make the self-storage facility part of the center? Or is it sequestered with its own parking and boundaries so as to not seem part of the center?
The sites typically keep their overall footprint. Some are part of a center and some--like our conversion in Allentown--are freestanding. In some instances, the entire lot is converted to self-storage through ground-up development. In other instances, if a larger unit count is not supported by market demand, out-lot sales are considered. Another investor can purchase the undeveloped land and open a retail or restaurant business. Some municipalities require we add green space, which enhances and adds a visual element to both the property and community.
In the case of Allentown, what are some of the positives that a self-storage facility brings to retail tenants of the center?
We’ve consistently seen a need for self-storage facilities and this is partly attributed to the “Four D’s” – death, divorce, dislocation, and downsizing. The decline of big box retailers has provided the opportunity to convert large scale facilities into a number of smaller self-storage units to meet this demand. We are redeveloping a vacant structure, which in many instances has sat vacant for a long time.
From an aesthetic and community standpoint, operating storage is far better for surrounding businesses than vacant retail, which can attract vandalism and the general perception of a depressed market. Cleaning up and converting a site into a sustainable, thriving business not only fills a commercial vacancy, it also provides a number of economic benefits through development and employment.