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IRE Facilitates Sale of 2nd Attic Self Storage Portfolio

Investment Real Estate LLC facilitated the sale of a three-property 2nd Attic Self Storage portfolio in Pottstown, Pa. The portfolio includes a rental office at the main site and two satellite locations totaling 63,862 square feet and 396 units. The occupancy rates were above 90 percent at the time of sale. The $4.35 transaction was made at an 8 cap rate and included an assumable loan. John Barry brokered the deal between the seller and first-time self-storage buyer.
 
IRE specializes in self-storage brokerage, construction, management and consulting services in the northeast and mid-Atlantic states.

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Glenwood Self Storage Owners Search for Snake

The owners of Glenwood Self Storage Center in Colorado, Colo., emptied several units yesterday in search of a snake, which was never found. The two-foot serpent could have been a python or a bull snake, based on the description provided by one of the facility’s tenants, who found it lying across some of his boxes yesterday morning. By the time the city’s animal-control officer arrived, it had slithered off.
 
Facility owners Jim and Ingrid Hawkins are unsure where the snake came from, but they do not allow pets to be stored on the property, they said. None of the tenants they contacted admitted to keeping a pet python. Bull snakes are common to the area.
 
If the snake is found and is a python, it will be taken to Colorado Animal Rescue.
 
Source: Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Parley in Parseltongue? Police pursue possible pet python

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Fire Damages Three Units at Missoula Self-Storage Facility

A fire at All Star Self Storage in Missoula, Mont., burned through three units early this morning. Other units suffered smoke and water damage. Crews from several fire departments responded to the blaze. No injuries were reported, and the cause of the fire is being investigated.
 
Source: News Channel 13, KECI Missoula, Storage Unit Fire

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Self-Storage as a Cell-Tower Site: Pros, Cons, Laying the 'Groundwork'

For self-storage operators, cell towers can be a godsend, providing decades of steady rental income from grade-A tenants, or a bust, depending on how the cell-tower lease is drafted and the site developed. Self-storage facilities are outstanding places to install cell towers for several reasons. First, many are in high-traffic areas on main commercial arteries. In addition, they usually have the space, proper zoning and setbacks required to obtain cell-tower approval.

If youre interested in having a cell tower on your storage site, there are three ways to connect with a carrier:

1. A carrier might stumble across your facility and make you an offer.

2. You can work with a large, multi-national tower corporation that knows local carrier requirements and builds sites. The corporation will pay the property owner a few hundred dollars monthly, and space is then sublet to various carriers. In this case, the tower company receives all revenue from the carrier leases.

3. You can partner with a property-management company that has contracts to represent, market, promote and manage the development and location of cell-tower sites. The management firm is usually compensated with a percentage of the lease revenue.

The biggest myth about getting a cell-tower built at your site is that you can contact carriers directly. Youre actually better off posting a Cell Tower Wanted sign at your facility. You probably have a one in 10,000 chance of getting the right people to review your site by making contact yourself. The carrier industry is controlled by a small number of individuals who are in the know.

Time Is of the Essence

If self-storage facilities make such great cell-tower sites, why dont more operators have them? If it were easy to get a cell tower built on your property, everyone would. Leasing a monopole at your facility requires luck, patience, the proper professional guidance and some work on your part.

Wireless telecommunications carriers outsource all of their site-selection work to site-acquisition contractors whose job is to find properties and execute leases at locations suitable for development. Dealing with a larger self-storage firm often requires the consultant to go through his out-of-state corporate real estate department. Its always easier to find a different site with a local owner than deal with out-of-state attorneys and property managers who knew nothing about a wireless carriers needs.

Cell-tower leasing contractors are compensated for bringing in a lease and sometimes have time-bonus incentives, so theyll always choose to provide a site to a carrier that will be leased the fastest. So its imperative for any storage-facility owner to be prepared to move quickly with such a deal, and make sure the leasing contractor understands you have the ability to get the lease executed in a reasonable time.

Benefits of Cell Towers

A three-carrier cell tower whose lease has been properly crafted can generate anywhere from $2 million to $3 million in revenue over a 30-year term. Besides the obvious financial benefits of leasing space to a carrier, there are many other advantages to having a cell tower at your facility.

Enhanced emergency service is perhaps the most important benefit to your community. Your neighbors will benefit from your cellular site even if they arent a wireless subscriber. Most police and emergency services transmit via wireless communications.

Paramedic transport vehicles use cellular technology, which requires cell towers.  In the event of an emergency, wireless phones are often the only reliable technology.

Large and small businesses alike need wireless technology to flourish. A municipality with good wireless infrastructure will attract more businesses than a town with poor coverage. The trickle-down effect should yield higher, long-term occupancy rates at your facility.

Cell towers improve public safety, save lives, increase business productivity and provide a better overall quality of life.

Drawbacks of Cell Towers

Improper tower placement is a big issue. It's imperative that the proposed site not encumber any future development or in any way hamper your primary business as a storage facility.

The public is misinformed about the health effects of cell towers. The wireless industry has done a lousy job of explaining that cellular technology is not a health hazard. Would you be surprised to learn that your car alternator or computer emits greater electromagnetic fields than a cell tower? In fact, in a worst-case scenario, a cell site generally operates at levels equal to or less than one half of 1 percent of the allowable federal standards.

If a property owner isnt properly advised during the cell-tower lease negotiation, the profitability of his site can be negatively impacted. Since the vast majority of lawyers are not wireless-leasing experts, even a good real estate attorney often will not catch things carriers slip into the contract. All cellular-site leases are heavily slanted toward the carrier, and theres minimal wiggle room on most terms.

Attorneys often negotiate their clients out of deals. The carrier then goes next door or across the street, and you lose the additional income. Proper professional guidance is required to maximize revenue, reduce liability, and provide a mutually beneficial agreement for the carrier and property owner.

Attracting a Carrier

The previously mentioned options for obtaining a wireless agreement at your facility are all viable, but you need to be realistic about your site. For example, dont waste your time if the site is a short distance from an existing tower, has environmental issues, is home to an endangered species, or is on a historical registry. And regardless of how you promote your facility to carriers, its imperative that you have a single point of contact to address any inquiries you may have.

First, confirm that your facility can support a carrier. Rooftop installations require 400 square feet of exterior or interior space, and towers need 600 to 2,000 square feet of ground space. Have copies of documents like property deeds and underlying ground leases, site plans or surveys at the ready. This will assist carriers in providing a timely design for the proposed equipment. If you operate more than one property, provide the carrier with a complete list for review.

If youre approached by a carrier, dont contact the municipality for its opinion. Carriers are experts at zoning these sites; leave any contact with municipalities to them.

Wireless carriers are actively seeking new cellular sites in all 50 states. In fact, more than 100,000 new cell towers need to be built across the country in the next decade. Self-storage operators who take advantage of this growth stand to benefit considerably.

Steve Kazella is the president of AirWave Telecom Property Management, a New Jersey-based firm that develops and manages cell-tower and rooftop wireless-communications sites. For more information, call 888.313.9750; visit www.airwavesites.com .

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ISS Blog

Could You Use an Extra $1,000?

Calling all rock stars! Marketing rock stars, that is. A couple of weeks ago, the ISS staff asked for the best, coolest, most inspiring and laugh-out-loud advertising and marketing campaigns in the biz. The “Best in Self-Storage Marketing" contest asked readers to share their YouTube videos, creative print campaigns, radio spots and more for a chance to win $1,000.

And you delivered! The submissions have been AMAZING. We’ve laughed! We’ve been inspired. We even said, aha! a few times.

We want more! If you’ve created a clever marketing piece, tell us about it. The contest is open to all self-storage managers, owners and operators. We want your marketing videos, ad campaigns, billboards, TV and radio spots, and direct mail or other promotional pieces.

To enter, contestants must complete a simple application form and submit examples of their operation’s best marketing pieces or campaigns. Submissions can be made as hard-copy or digital files.

Like all contests, this one will end too soon—this Friday, Aug. 28 so don’t delay! Get all the details or read what others are saying about the contest on Self-Storage Talk.

Stolen Goods Traced to Self-Storage Through LoJack Device

A Johnston, R.I., man who allegedly stole power tools, auto parts and a Harley Davidson motorcycle and hid them in a self-storage unit turned himself in to local police last week. Orlando Valentin, 33, was caught after police traced the motorcycle’s LoJack anti-theft device to his unit at Forum Self Storage.
 
After tracing the LoJack signal to the storage facility and securing a search warrant, police found the motorcycle as well as a large assortment of power tools, construction equipment and automobile parts in a unit rented to the name Victor Ramos. When detectives visited Ramos’ address, they were turned away by a man identifying himself as Valentin. After viewing the storage facility’s surveillance footage, it was discovered that Valentin was the unit’s real renter.
 
Valentin turned himself in after a warrant was issued for his arrest. Detectives are attempting to match the items in his unit to their owners through recent break-in reports.
 
Source: The Providence Journal, Stolen motorcycle tracked to storage unit

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Woman Crashes Car Into Ocala Self-Storage Facility

A 66-year-old woman crashed her car into a boat at Water Spots Ski & Skate and then into a Devon Self Storage facility in Ocala, Fla., yesterday. While the cause of the crash was not clear as of Monday afternoon, a police spokeswoman said a mechanical issue may have been a contributing factor. A news release written by a local fire-rescue battalion chief sad the driver may have suffered a medical emergency. The woman, who was not identified, was transported to Munroe Regional Medical Center.
 
Source: Ocala.com, Woman's car hits boat, then storage unit

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White Elephant Self-Storage Sold to All-Cash French Buyer

White Elephant Self Storage in Belen, N.M., approximately 30 miles south of Albuquerque, was sold in July. David Laney of RealStar Commercial Real Estate represented the seller in the sale of this 21,678-square-foot property. The all-cash buyer from France assumed the existing loan and closed in 60 days.

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The White Pages: A Forgotten Marketing Tool

Many of us have forgotten the hidden value of our White Pages listing in the telephone directory. Before becoming the large “buying guide” it is today, the phone book was the place to find residential and business phone numbers, primarily via the White Pages.

These days, most of the emphasis is placed on the value of the Yellow Pages, but we shouldn’t take our business White Pages listing for granted. We assume that establishing a phone number with our service provider is all we need to ensure we’re listed accurately. But take a moment to check: Does your business even appear in your local White Pages?

As a business operator, you can choose which local exchange carrier you use for phone service. The listing information you provide is what’s given to the various directory publishers for the print White Pages. It’s also what’s provided when someone calls directory assistance, and what appears on the Internet Yellow Pages. It’s one of the ways other websites obtain their listing data, too. Many operators complain that their information is incorrect and are unsure how the data is obtained.

If your business data is relayed incorrectly to the carrier, it will be published incorrectly, so be careful about the information you provide. If the phone number is a fax or backup business line, specify that the number as “non-published.” If you fail to specify a facility address to be printed, you could end up with a corporate address as the facility location. These are items to check every time a directory is delivered to ensure data has not been lost or changed during the year.
 
Making Changes

In most cases, your Yellow Pages sales representative cannot correct or make changes (other than enhancements) to your White Pages listing. This can only be accomplished by contacting your phone-service provider. Any changes that could affect your listing should be communicated to the provider so it can submit an order to the directory publishers.

Always obtain a confirmation number when you submit a change. This will be the only reference point you have to confirm the establishment of a number or to follow up on changes you’ve requested.

Complimentary listings in the Yellow Pages can also only be placed for the phone number and address you’ve listed with the phone-service provider. If you don’t receive your complimentary listing or it’s printed incorrectly, the confirmation number you have from the provider can be provided to the Yellow Pages department or your sales representative to assist in ensuring an accurate listing next time. 

The Importance of the White Pages

Many business owners are unaware of opportunities the White Pages offer. You can position your business as an industry leader by incorporating a strong White Pages program into your marketing strategy. Approximately 78 percent of consumers access the White Pages at least 2.5 times per week, according to a 2005 YPA White Page Usage and Perception Study. Of those that use a product or service after locating a business in the White Pages, 60 percent are repeat customers, the study showed.

Repeat and referral business has historically been the most cost-effective form of advertising. If someone refers your storage facility by name to a friend, but doesn’t have the phone number readily available, the friend’s ability to find you easily and quickly in the White Pages is precious.

You may have great signage and street exposure, but how would a potential tenant find your phone number? The easiest way is through the White Pages. With the storage heading heavily occupied in the Yellow Pages, finding you in the White Pages by name makes it easier and doesn’t expose potential tenants to your competitors.
 
Make it Easy to Be Found

There are also many enhancements now offered in the White Pages. The most common and least expensive is to bold your listing to make it stand out. This is suggested especially if you have a name that’s common, begins with the letter A, or follows the city, county or street name. Some White Pages directories also offer color listings, which can further set you apart.

Ads can also incorporate your logo for easy recognition. In appeal ratings, 41 percent of respondents like to see a business name in bold, according to the YPA survey. Thirty-five percent prefer to see a Web address included so they can access additional information online, and 47 percent like to see the facility’s hours of operation.

Other enhancements include banner and corner ads that repeat every few pages. These types of ads have proven valuable for attracting customers who are looking in the White Pages for another business.

Make sure you’re listed when a customer is looking for you, whether it’s in the White Pages, the Yellow Pages or on the Internet. If they already know the name of your business, good job. Now help them by providing a quick, easy way to contact you. Increase the likelihood that a customer will call or visit your business and capture a potentially missed opportunity. The White Pages have always served as a valuable tool to connect customers with businesses in their local area.
 
Michelle Millis is a senior client-service manager of Michaels Wilder Inc., an advertising agency specializing in Yellow Pages, Internet marketing and talent recruitment for the self-storage industry since 1989. For more information, visit www.michaelswilder.com

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