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Sexy Sells, Even for Self-Storage: A New Designation as ‘Community Asset’ Bumps Up Industry Appeal

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The Influence of Affluence

While baby boomers aren’t new to self-storage, their evolving needs are demanding greater product diversification. Loaded with the belongings of their extended family, these typical suburbanites require more climate-controlled and secure storage for family valuables including art, wine and large heirlooms such as pianos.

Another Stein investment under development, Johnson Ferry Self-Storage, meets those needs at the heart of one of the most affluent neighborhoods in metro Atlanta. Larger unit sizes and climate- and humidity-controlled wine storage will be a new addition to the community’s most prominent commercial corridor. This trend is expected to continue for the next decade.

a rendering of Johnson Ferry Storage in Atlanta

A Community Asset

To attract these new, emerging classes of renters and sustain the “sexy,” the self-storage industry is expected to evolve from a lifestyle business to an investment-class business model. While single-site operators remain the mainstay, it’s the capital from new investor resources that’s infusing the industry with a sustainable and more sophisticated product type that ensures the asset's longevity.

No longer hidden from view on undesirable sites, the 21st century self-storage facility is front and center at highly visible, class-A retail intersections within burgeoning communities, urban and suburban. Yet it’s not only the physical address that solidifies this product, it’s the industry's emergence as a community asset—an integral part of a neighborhood’s amenity package—that’s driving the performance of this product.

The Next Generation

So, what makes a self-storage facility a community asset? First, a quality product. Today’s facilities must align with the architectural and lifestyle appeal of the surrounding neighborhood, designed to meet the increasingly strict local and municipal zoning requirements and blend with homes and buildings. This is key to positioning a project in highly visible, prime commercial nodes. Whether progressive or traditional in style, storefronts now incorporate varied exteriors including stone, wood, brick and other high-end finishes. Extensive landscaping and intentional lighting schemes complete the welcoming, upscale environment.

The "next-generation facility" is also wrapped with state-of-the-art technology that controls everything from electronically controlled access to bill-pay. These sites feature bright, clean and secure interior environments that include motion-controlled lighting, music, intercoms and large, clean corridors. Onsite kiosks allow renters to manage their accounts with the opportunity to extend contracts, pay rent or register a maintenance request.

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