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Factors to Consider When Choosing a Site for Self-Storage Development

By Steve Hajewski Comments

One of the most critical decisions in developing a self-storage facility is choosing the right site. The best location depends on a number of factors, and each can influence your decision. Research and an understanding of market conditions are critical in your fact-gathering. Let’s examine some key components to site selection that will help you sharpen your focus on viable opportunities.

Market Conditions

Before deciding on a particular site, you must evaluate local market conditions. If there are existing self-storage facilities in the area, are they full? Can you offer a better product, or are you in position to market your facility more effectively than competitors? Ideally, you want to find a region that’s underserved. For example, areas with new residential construction typically mean increased self-storage demand.

In addition to evaluating existing sites, check with local officials to find out if any other self-storage projects have been approved or are under construction. Once you’ve identified the market you wish to enter, examine multiple prospective locations. Real estate deals often fall through, so it’s wise to have a “plan B” in the works.

This site in Northridgeville, Ohio, is on a main road, surrounded by residential property in all directions. The buildings are aligned north to south, which reduces potential ice buildup in drive aisles.Zoning

New self-storage developers often underestimate the difficulty in changing municipal zoning. If at all possible, target parcels that are already zoned to allow self-storage. In many areas, you’ll also need a conditional-use permit, which isn’t normally too difficult to get if you present the planning board with a reasonably attractive plan.

Most municipalities offer zoning maps and regulations on their websites. Identify the zoning type required for self-storage, and then use the map to identify possible locations.

While not located on a highly traveled road, Storage Max (blue doors) in Nicholasville, Ky., enjoys excellent visibility from the freeway.Visibility and Population Density

Industry statistics have shown that nearly half of all tenants became aware of their chosen self-storage facility by driving past it. A highly visible location is important, but it’s often costly. Many successful self-storage businesses are built with great visibility from a high-traffic road or freeway but with customer accessibility from a back road or frontage drive. If customers know where your facility is, they’ll seek it out when their need for storage arises.

Some municipalities may not have highly visible land available in areas zoned for self-storage. If competing sites are also in low-visibility areas, this may not be a problem, particularly if the property you’re considering is close to the population base. However, a location with poor visibility will suffer when the competition is highly visible.

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