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Self-Storage Analyst Releases Optimistic Industry Results

The demand for self-storage is regaining strength in the consumer market, according to Charles Ray Wilson, president of Self-Data Services Inc. (SSDS) and a renowned self-storage valuation expert. This week, Wilson voiced an optimistic outlook for the industry based on an analysis of rental activity of thousands of self-storage units nationwide.  
 
“SSDS measures rental demand by tracking and analyzing monthly trends in move-ins and move-outs. In March, total rental activity increased nearly 10 percent over February 2009 and was only down 3.5 percent compared to March of 2008,” Wilson said. “Although still negative, the seasonally adjusted net number of move-ins over move-outs is steadily improving, and should turn positively as we head into the business months of the year. Hopefully, this signals the bottom of the decline in physical occupancy.”
 
Wilson is an internationally recognized authority on self-storage investment analysis. In 1992, he founded SSDS, a research firm that maintains a database of operating statistics on several thousands of self-storage facilities nationwide, tracking trends in the top 50 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas on a quarterly basis.

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Sovran Self Storage Explores Solar-Panel Option

Amherst, N.Y.-based Sovran Self Storage, which owns or manages more than 25 million square feet of storage units across 24 states, has set its sights on solar panels as a green option for its properties. CEO Kenneth Myszka addressed the possibility at the company’s annual shareholders meeting yesterday. While it’s not a sure thing, he believes the company should investigate whether installing the panels is viable, especially with all of the state and federal incentives for green-energy projects.
 
Sovran executives are looking into potential revenue sources because of the recession. The company expects revenue to drop by about 2 percent this year and has decreased its second-quarter earnings forecast. It is also cutting its dividend by 30 percent to 45 cents per share, suspending its program to upgrade and expand facilities, and offering various discounts to customers.
 
Earlier this week, Fitch Ratings downgraded Sovran, costing the company one of the two investment-grade ratings it needed to keep its preferred interest rates on its debt.
 
Sovran operates 385 facilities under the name Uncle Bob’s Self Storage.
 
Source: Buffalo News, Sovran Self Storage Looks to the Sun

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Self-Storage Builder Helps Albanian Student Aim High

Blerina Cenaj, a 22-year-old woman from Albania, never dreamed she would graduate from an American college this spring and be on her way to becoming a doctor. With the support of Charles and Julie Plunkett, owners of Artistic Builders Inc. and Capco Steel Inc., she’s already well on her way.
 
Having been in the United States for only six years, Cenaj’s parents moved to the United States so their two children could receive a good education. She helped fulfill that dream by enrolling at Trinity University is a 140-year-old private university in San Antonio, Texas. Cenaj graduated this month with 160 credit hours and a 3.4 GPA, and is preparing to take the MCAT (medical college admission test) next month. She plans to take a year off from school to do missionary medical work in Peru. 
 

Blerina Cenaj with Julie Plunkett on graduation day.

Cenaj began school in the United States as a high school junior. While there, she befriended a German exchange student being hosted by the Plunketts, who took Cenaj under their wing when she embarked on her university search. Though she graduated high school with a 4.0 average, she was concerned about affording college and wished to stay close to her parents, who struggle with the language barrier.
 
Julie took Cenaj to several open houses and arranged a meeting with Eric Maloof, Trinity’s International Dean of Students, who encouraged Cenaj to apply for a Manchurian Scholarship. She was ultimately granted four years of tuition, and entered a work-study program to cover room and board.
 
“Blerina is one of those shining lights that comes into your life,” said Julie. “I was so happy to be able to help her and guide her to such an incredible opportunity. What a joy to see her walk across that stage, knowing what she and her family have been through to make that happen.”

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Jamestown, NC, Residents Oppose Self-Storage Project

In Jamestown, N.C., a developer who requested to rezone four acres of residential land to build a self-storage facility has withdrawn his request, thanks to the outcry of dozens of residents who turned up at a commissioners meeting. The county planning board recently voted to reclassify the land to light industrial, but members of The Highland at James Landing neighborhood, immediately next to the parcel, oppose it. Concerns voiced include higher traffic, increased noise, decreased property value and a “domino effect” that will invite more development.
 
Source: My Fox 8 - Greensboro, N.C., Developer Withdraws Request for Much-Protested Rezoning

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Bill to Clarify Self-Storage Specialty Insurance Licensing in New York

A bill that would clarify the rights of self-storage operators in the state of New York to sell pay-with-rent tenant-insurance policies recently passed the New York Senate Insurance Committee. Though concerns voiced by some senators last year have been addressed, now opposition to the bill has been voiced by a small contingent of state insurance brokers. Sponsored by the Self Storage Association and New York Self Storage Association, the specialty license bill would must be considered by other Senate committees as well as the Assembly before it can be put to a vote.

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Mobile-Storage Webinar Addresses Ways to Increase Business in a Recession

At 2 p.m. ET on June 17, a group of mobile-storage professionals will present a free webinar titled "Three Great Ways to Increase Business in a Recession." The live event will address topics of key relevance to operators of mobile-storage facilities: working with disaster-relief organizations, developing government storage business when residential business declines, and long-distance shipping. The presenters are James “Dusty” Rhodes, vice president of franchise operations for SMARTBOX; Buck Ramsey, director of mobile storage and moving services for Hide-Away Storage; and Alex Wayman, managing director for Store to Door LLC. The event is sponsored by the exhibitors and sponsors of the 2008 Mobile Self-Storage Association Conference. Details and registration information can be found at www.ministoragemessenger.com/webinar.

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U-Haul Offers Free Storage to Florida Flood Evacuees

The U-Haul Co. of Jacksonville, Fla., is offering 30 days of free storage to local people who have been evacuated or need to move their belongings away from the recent coastal flooding. There are 11 U-Haul facilities participating in the relief effort.
 
"The coastal flooding has the potential to cause tremendous damage and inflicted extreme hardship on the communities we serve," said Ed Hatcher, president. "I hope this effort will provide assistance to families that truly need a helping hand if this flooding affects their areas."
 
U-Haul offers more than 33.8 million square feet of storage space at more than 1,055 facilities throughout North America.

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Canadian Self-Storage Partnership Opens Quebec Facility

Canadian Mini-Warehouse Properties Co., the general partner of Public Storage Canadian Properties, has opened a newly constructed self-storage facility in Dorval, Quebec. It consists of a four-story climate-controlled building with approximately 88,000 rentable square feet and 830 units. The cost to develop the facility, including the land, was approximately $10.8 million. This is the fifth facility acquired and or developed by the partnership in the Greater Montreal Area in the last four years.

The facility will be managed by Canadian Mini-Warehouse Properties, which manages the partnership's other properties, pursuant to an agreement for a management fee of 6 percent of the property’s gross operating revenue.

Public Storage Canadian Properties is a publicly held limited partnership formed under the Limited Partnership Act (Ontario). The partnership owns 26 self-storage facilities of which 15 are in Ontario, five in British Columbia, five in Quebec and one in Alberta. The partnership also owns land parcels in Oakville, Ontario, Orleans, Ontario, Richmond Hill, Ontario and LaSalle, Quebec for self-storage development.

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Ireland Company Suggests Self-Storage to Deflect Residential Crime

Ireland self-storage company Need More Space claims Dubliners are falling into the "biscuit tin trap" and becoming easy prey for burglars, citing its services as a ready fix for the dilemma. According to the company, residents often store valuable items like jewelry, electronics and important documents in unsecured places in the home, inviting risk of misplacement or theft. To avoid the loss of irreplaceable items, Need More Space suggests people use self-storage.
 
Need More Space has three facilities around Co Dublin, at Deansgrange, Santry and Kylemore. It currently provides storage and logistic solutions to more than 1,000 residential and business customers.
 
Source: Herald.ie, Burglars find easy pickings in city homes

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Postal Worker Gets Probation for Stashing Mail in Storage Unit

A Michigan postal worker who hid thousands of pieces of mail in a self-storage unit has been placed on probation for two years. Jill Hull, 35, pleaded guilty to deserting the mail three months ago. She said she couldn’t keep up with her route in Livingston County. Today she was sentenced in federal court, where she apologized to U.S. Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen, who decided not to order her with a fine.
 
Managers of the storage facility discovered the unopened mail in September 2008. Some had postmarks from 2005.
 
Source: Detroit Free Press, Mail-stashing gets Michigan postal worker probation

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