Web Application Illustorage to Provide Self-Storage Market Analysis

Paul Dacus, lead software engineer at Alacrity Systems, is close to unveiling a Web application designed to assist self-storage developers in the site-selection process. The analytical tool, available to subscribers through Illustorage.com, combines market data and color-coded maps to provide a visual representation of a U.S. locale and rank its potential for self-storage, according to the source.

Paul Dacus, lead software engineer at Alacrity Systems, is close to unveiling a Web application designed to assist self-storage developers in the site-selection process. The analytical tool, available to subscribers through Illustorage.com, combines market data and color-coded maps to provide a visual representation of a U.S. locale and rank its potential for self-storage, according to the source.

Dacus uses more than 50 local variables identified by the U.S. Census Bureau to predict the potential of U.S. markets. He then applies the number of self-storage facilities in an area to determine if locations are oversupplied or undersupplied, the source reported. Vital market statistics include median home values, median household income, number of people per square mile and the percentage of population below the poverty line, according to a sample image posted on the Illustorage Twitter account.

Illustorage uses the data to generate a rank for each county or ZIP code from 1 to 100, with 100 being the highest score. Just 1 percent of all self-storage locations receive a score of 100, Illustorage tweeted. “It is my general idea that locations with high rankings will outperform all the others,” Dacus told the source.

In addition to rankings, Illustorage will provide DataSets and Competitor Insight, which are “geospatial [business intelligence] tools for location optimization and return maximization for the self-storage industry,” according to Dacus’ profile on LinkedIn. To fuel the system, Illustorage uses Google Earth, a Ruby on Rails Web platform and a Postgres backend, according to the profile.

“My goal is to predict the five- to 10-year total return for existing and potential locations,” Dacus told the source.

Currently, the most attractive market in the nation for self-storage development is Los Angeles County, according to Dacus’ analysis. “Despite the fact that there are 800 distinct locations in our database, the population and income and all the other data we look at points to the idea that Los Angeles County could support as many as 1,500 or 1,600 locations,” he told the source.

Among the worst places to develop a new storage facility is the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, which is so oversupplied it would take up to five years to reach equilibrium if no new facilities were built during that time, Dacus said. “Dallas-Fort Worth has more locations than we expect the demographics can support,” he told the source.

Both assessments of market conditions coincide with the most recent data published by commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield (C&W). In its first-quarter 2015 Self-Storage Metropolitan Area (MSA) Reports for the two MSAs, Los Angeles shows it is undersupplied, with just 4.72 rentable square feet of self-storage per person, while Dallas is oversupplied, with 7.88 rentable square feet per person. The national average among the Top 50 U.S. MSAs is 6.5 rentable square feet per person, according to C&W.

Dacus is formerly a senior software engineer for G5, the provider of Digital Experience Management (DXM) software and services to the self-storage industry. After leaving G5 in 2011, Dacus began working on a unit-price comparison tool, which has evolved into the Illustorage project, the source reported.

A launch date for Illustorage has not been set. Data sets will be sold for some markets, with access to the Web application available via paid subscriptions, according to the source.

Sources:

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