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Conversions: The New Way to Build Self-Storage?

While retrofitting empty buildings into self-storage facilities has always been a part of the self-storage construction landscape, the lack of available land for new development in many cities combined with the recent availability of large, empty buildings, has given self-storage conversions new life.

Over the past couple of months, ISS has reported on an emerging trend in self-storage: conversions. While retrofitting empty buildings into self-storage facilities has always been a part of the self-storage construction landscape, the lack of available land for new development in many cities combined with the recent availability of large, empty buildings, has given self-storage conversions new life.

Co-owners Dan Kasman and Michael Gyory’s celebrated the grand opening of Thornwood Self Storage in Thornwood, N.Y., a “green-minded” conversion project. Built in the 1960s, the building had most recently operated as a health club. The co-owners were committed to going green, re-using and recycling much of the construction debris. The Thornwood project is the Facility Spotlight in the February issue of ISS.

Another large-scale conversion, iStoreGreen, was a turn-of-the-century, cold-storage building in New York. Owner and developer Jeffrey Sitt was able to repurpose much of the original building’s materials and now uses renewable energy for 100 percent of the facility’s electricity.

City planning and zoning commissions also seem to be on board with conversions, which can give self-storage access to retail areas formerly off limits. Recently, a developer in Summit Hill, Pa., received approval to retrofit an old bakery, once considered a town landmark, into a 13-unit self-storage facility. Another bakery, vacant since 2002, reopened this fall as Lucenda Self-Storage. 

While some developers and investors will always prefer the clean-slate appeal of ground-up construction, conversions should not be overlooked.

Benjamin Riehm of Janus International outlines the advantage—and challenges—of conversions in this article from the ISS archives. You can also read what industry real estate professionals have to say about the future of conversions in the State-of-the-Industry Report, Part 2 in the March issue of ISS.

Finally, Andrew Hyde of Self Storage Affiliates tackles the topic at the Inside Self-Storage World Expo in Las Vegas, March 1-3. To read more about his seminar, “Making Money With Self-Storage Conversions,” and to register, visit www.insideselfstorageworldexpo.com.

If you’ve completed a self-storage conversion project, or are considering one, tell us about it by posting a comment below or head over to Self-Storage Talk, the best self-storage online forum, and join the discussion.

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