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Battle Continues Over Sign at N.Y. Self-Storage Facility

A battle over the size and placement of a self-storage sign continues to rage in a small town in New York.

A sign located on property owned by Charles W. Redmond on which he operates Red Mountain Storage and an office for a real estate business has come under fire in Chestertown, N.Y. The size of the sign, located on the town’s main street, may not conform to the town’s zoning law. The issue of the sign—both size and placement—has been ongoing since 2001.

Source: North County Gazette,  The Mystical, Magical Sign Of Red Mountain 

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Self-Storage Employees Save Homeless Man's Dog

Last week employees of Sparky’s Self Storage and Carwash in Hesperia, Calif., saved the life of Big Boy the dog, a homeless man’s sole companion. On Monday, Arthur McDonald, 58, tied his dog to a shady spot near the storage facility to rest. He later found the dog missing. Don Willis, a maintenance worker at Sparky’s, visited the Hesperia Animal Shelter to find the dog.
 
Big Boy, an 8-year-old German shepherd mix, was indeed at the shelter but was scheduled to be euthanized unless someone could pay $145 for vaccines, rabies shots and neutering. Willis and his coworkers took up a collection to save the dog.
 
The employees of Sparky’s are familiar with McDonald and his dog, who live in a tent near the facility and frequently walk up and down Main Street collecting cans for recycling. The workers at Sparky’s described him as polite, kind and friendly.

Source: The Daily Press, Hesperia workers save homeless man's dog from pound

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Comanche Self Storage Owner Finishes 750-Mile Bike Race

Nate Dick, the 64-year-old owner and manager of Comanche Self Storage in Estes Park, Colo., last month earned an official finish in the Last Chance 1200K Randoneé, a four-day bicycle ride of nearly 750 miles. The ride went from Boulder, Colo., to Kensington, Kan., and back during Sept. 9-12.
 
Dick, one of only 33 riders who finished the race, said he believed himself to be the oldest finisher of the bunch. He said randonneuring, a form of cycling competition that follows a defined route varying from 200 to 1200 kilometers in a specified time (90 hours in the case of the Last Chance), tends to attract an older crowd, as younger riders tend to prefer competitions of speed over staying power.
 
To qualify for the race, cyclists had to place in a full Brevert Series of races at 200, 300, 400 and 600 kilometers. Though Dick has participated in many outdoor challenges, such as climbing the highest 100 peaks in Colorado, he said the Last Chance was by far the hardest thing he has done. His goal was to finish the ride in 86 hours; he completed it in 85.5.
 
Dick got his start in cycling shortly after he moved to Estes Park in 1983. After starting on a Schwinn Continental, he now rides a titanium-frame Lite-speed.
 
Dick is now working on a cross-country ride that is done in two-week segments over the course of three years.
 
Source: Estes Park Trail-Gazette, Do, did, done

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Sovran Self Storage and Other N.Y. Businesses Hang On During Recession

Businesses in the Buffalo Niagara region in New York are still worried about the state of today’s economy, according to a recent article in The Buffalo News.

After a year of declining business, many business operators are cautious about business recovery for next year. “With visibility hazy at best, I’d hesitate to claim that things have bottomed out,” says Kenneth Myszka, president of Sovran Self Storage, the Williamsville, N.Y., company that runs 283 Uncle Bob’s self-storage facilities in the eastern United States.

Like many self-storage companies, Sovran has turned to concessions to keep facilities full. Uncle Bob’s customers are offered their first month rent-free, and can even name their own price in the second month. Despite the concessions, occupancy rates are dropping. “The leasing environment is as competitive as we’ve seen and we are, of course, buying occupancy,” says David Rogers, Sovran’s chief financial officer.

Source:  The Buffalo News,   Local Firms Are Ready for an Improved Economy

 

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NJ Self-Storage Facility Seeks Approval to Install Solar Panels

A self-storage facility and a car wash in Bernardsville, N.J., are seeking approval to install rooftop solar panels for the generation of electricity. The businesses approached the local planning board with their proposal on Nov. 5. They will return to the board for a meeting on Dec. 17 to describe their plan to the public. These are the first businesses in the borough to pursue solar-panel installation, according to board chairman Craig Lawrence, who supports the idea.

Source: New Brunswick Home News Tribune, Bernardsville businesses seek approval to install solar panels

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Units Robbed at Sunbury, Pa., Self-Storage Facility

As many as 25 storage units were forcibly entered and robbed at KAMPCO Self Storage in Sunbury, Pa., last week. Police are seeking the public’s help in solving the crime.
 
The incidents occurred between 5 p.m. on Tuesday and 8 a.m. on Wednesday. The total cost of stolen items is still being determined.
 
Police believe the perpetrator(s) transported the stolen items to a vehicle parked on an adjacent road. They are asking people to step forward with information about vehicles or suspicious behavior they may have observed.
 
Source: The Daily Item, Thieves target storage units

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Community Self-Storage IV Buys Land in Houston to Build Facility

Community Self-Storage IV purchased 2 acres of land in Houston from Gables Residential to develop a 200,000-square-foot self-storage facility. Andy Aronson of Gulfstream Properties represented the buyer.
 
Source:  Houston Chronicle,  Real Estate Transactions

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Wesco Self Storage to Host Wine-Tasting and Facility Tour

Wesco Self Storage of Torrance, Calif., will host a wine-tasting and facility tour on Nov. 13, 5:30 to 7 p.m. The invitation-only event is available to attendees of the three-day Self Storage Academy being hosted in Los Angeles by Scott Meyers, president and founder of Self Storage Profits Inc.
 
Attendees will get a behind-the-scenes look at Wesco’s buildings and grounds. The facility owners will be on site to answer questions about the operation.
 
The academy will be held Nov. 12-14 at the Embassy Suites. Meyers and other self-storage industry professionals will teach real estate investors and entrepreneurs how to find, evaluate, purchase and manage self-storage facilities. For details, contact Linda Davis at 866.693.5999.

Meyers is also the president of Indianapolis-based Alcatraz Storage and the owner of SelfStorageInvesting.com. He will be presenting a seminar titled “Self-Storage Acquisitions: Affordable Deal Structures for Today’s Economy,” at the Inside Self-Storage World Expo in Las Vegas, March 1-3. For show details, visit www.insideselfstorageworldexpo.com.  

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Westy Self Storage Hosts 'Sweet Taste of Music' Benefit

Westy’s Self Storage in Chatham, N.J., will host “The Sweet Taste of Music,” a sampling of chamber music by the Montclair String Quartet, at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 15. The public is invited to enjoy music as well as a wide selection of decadent desserts provided by the Artist Baker of Morristown, the Whole Foods Market of Madison, the Hyatt Hotel of Morristown, and members of the Friends of the Colonial Symphony.

Sponsored by Friends group, the event will benefit the Colonial Symphony, which is celebrating its 52nd season. Tickets are $40 per person.
 
During the event, conductor Paul Hostetter will lead the young members of the quartet in performing Beethoven and Haydn, a violin-cello sonata by Ravel, and a Bach solo cello “partita,” featuring cellist Daniel Mumm.
 
Source: Chatham Courier, Music and ‘decadent desserts’ to benefit Colonial Symphony

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Self-Storage in Japan: Opportunities Exist in a Country Thirsty for Space

The availability of information via the media and Internet is rapidly changing Japanese culture, with Americans having a large influence. Japan’s residents dream and long for space and privacy similar to what people in Australia, Canada and the United States and other countries enjoy.

There is a large opportunity to capitalize on this mindset by selling freedom of space. But we should “think small” for the Japanese market. Housing and real estate in general are small. Automobiles are smaller. The items people keep in their homes are smaller. Many people suffer from limited space but have learned how to live with and enjoy small things out of necessity. As such, a small American self-storage facility would seem large by Japanese standards.
 
Opportunities Abound

Japan, a country smaller than the state of California, is home to 127 million people and approximately 49 million households. Almost half of the housings are built as complexes, such as apartments and condos. The average number of rooms in typical Japanese home is 4.65, and the average living space is 92.7 square meters (998 square feet).

There are only approximately 100,000 self-storage units available for rent in Japan, less than 0.2 percent of the total households. Needless to say, the country is hurting for storage space.

In the United States, the average per-capita square footage of storage space is 6. Self-storage demand in Japan―specifically Tokyo―is not this strong, but even if it is only 25 percent of the U.S. demand, we’d still need a total of 20 million square feet of self-storage in Tokyo alone. It’s far more in areas outside of the city.  
 
Existing Operations

The biggest self-storage market is central Tokyo, with the trend spreading to dense cities of surrounding suburb area such as the Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures. The Japanese recognize storage facilities as “trunk room,” and rarely call them “self-storage.”

There are only a few companies operating American-style self-storage in Japan. The largest is Quraz, which has 36 facilities totaling approximately 500,000 square feet. The largest player in trunk storage (or the like) is Arealink Co. Ltd., which markets under the name “Hello Storage,” with more than 600 locations. However, most of its facilities consist of few units. The whole Hello Storage portfolio is approximately 33,000 units.

Most Japanese self-storage facilities are operated by real estate companies and traditional warehouse companies. Many real estate companies started by renting ocean containers stacked up on unused land.

Arealink also started its self-storage business in 1999 by setting up and renting ocean containers. In 2001, it began its “trunk room” operation by converting part or all of existing buildings and custom-building new facilities. It went public in 2003 and listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Another popular brand in the Japanese storage industry is Reise Box, developed by Reise Co. Ltd. in 1991. It has approximately 350 locations in Tokyo and Osaka. The company doesn’t operate any container-style storage, but has developed an interesting concept called “Reise Garage” as well as trunk rooms.

This concept is well-accepted among people with higher incomes and owners of expensive automobiles. Reise Box offers the lifestyle and idea of owning private garages, which are generally hard to obtain.
 
Differences From U.S. Self-Storage

Available land is limited in Japan. Most properties are leased. Some companies set up franchise systems to share a percent of profit with property owners.

Almost all Japanese trunk-room facilities are unmanned. There are no onsite managers or offices attached to the facility. Because sites are small, with fewer than 100 units, it’s not economically feasible to have offices with managers.

There are no computer-controlled access gates or high fences protecting outdoor facilities. Access to indoor trunk room requires a key to the main entrance as well as individual door locks. Renters can access units 24/7.

When tenants want to rent a unit, they visit the facility’s website or call to a reserve. They can visit a central office or regional offices for faster service. Each company can send a contract and other information by mail. Many companies require security deposits or automatic bank debit. It’s almost impossible to rent units the same day.

Most operators never deal with auctioning contents for unpaid or delinquent units. It’s costly and time-consuming to deal with delinquencies legally.
 
Tenant Profile

Arealink reports a good mix of residential and commercial customers, with an average ratio of 70 percent residential and 30 percent commercial. Some commercial customers, such as small contractors, prefer container-type units for easier access and better prices.

However, these units are often in undesirable areas and lack climate control. The typical items people store in trunk rooms include seasonal clothing, sporting goods, leisure items, books, collections, hobby items and furniture.

Today, self-storage in Japan is not considered an investment-grade asset. This will provide tremendous opportunity for early developers who invest to build a brand, platform and tremendous product that Japanese and institutional investors will soon view as a viable alternative to other commercial real estate assets in the country. 
It might take more time to gain recognition for self-storage in Japan, but it will surely gain at a steady pace.
 
Tatsuya Saji, president of Trade Winds International, has been consulting with real estate companies in the development of self-storage businesses in Japan since 2004.
For more information, call 81 798 54 9988; e-mail [email protected].

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