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Recent news events have shed new light on the municipal seesaw between self-storage development bans and plans to incentivize projects. Here’s an overview of recent activity as well as what developers can do to change industry perception and win approval in places in need of enlightenment.

Tony Jones

June 30, 2023

3 Min Read
How Self-Storage Developers Can Combat the Ban Hammer

If you’ve been watching our news reporting closely, you may have noticed an uptick in municipal seesaw activity over whether to ban self-storage development for periods of time or in certain areas of a city vs. other jurisdictions that are considering going out of their way to incentivize industry development. This is in addition to our development round-up pieces, which often divulge curious reasons why some storage projects get denied.

In the last month, we’ve reported that West Gardiner, Maine, expected to extend its moratorium another six months, while Providence, Rhode Island, is considering either banning or restricting self-storage in some zones, including ones where it’s currently allowed. Meanwhile, Parkland, Florida, just approved two measures that’ll allow self-storage to be developed in some commercial zones, while officials in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, next month will consider adding self-storage as an allowable use in the city’s business zoning district. The latter is particularly encouraging because the city views the move as a proactive way to encourage the redevelopment of older buildings in the downtown area.

This is just recent activity. This ebb and flow has been going on in fits and starts for the last few years largely due to an influx of self-storage development applications, often in secondary and tertiary markets whose perceptions about self-storage are antiquated by today’s standards. Some jurisdictions have been overwhelmed by project interest and don’t have adequate rules in place to properly designate where self-storage fits as a use or accurately assess its value to the community. Thus, some enact temporary bans to try to unwrinkle weaknesses in their code as well as study how other communities have been tackling the issue.

As frustrating as the moratoriums are for the developers caught up in them, they’re likely good for the industry in the long run because the development interest forces officials to take a broader look at self-storage and how it can fit within its various zones. The industry won’t win in every case, certainly, but over time it should rack up more positive positioning (like Greensburg) than setbacks or rollbacks (like Providence).

Of course, that takes a willingness to be open-minded about modern storage facilities and how they can fit into neighborhoods aesthetically with services the community wants and needs. The industry will continue to push the rock uphill when it comes to job creation in relation to property size, but cities are also facing a glut of abandoned buildings whose uses have run their course.

This means developers can have a lot of sway. A well-designed project that takes community and city interests into account is certainly a good start. There are myriad strategies possible, but the key one may very well be educator. Developers who have a compelling plan that underscores how their self-storage or mixed-use project will help revitalize a decaying corridor or help turnaround a neighborhood eyesore should at least get an honest listen.

Doing your due diligence on potential sites has never been more important. Knowing what you’re up against or how favorable a municipality may be to your plan is essential. How you craft your message as well as frame your willingness to work with community wants and needs can also extend and open dialogues.

Here are four streaming-video, education sessions from the last two ISS World Expo events that deal directly with elements of this topic in much more detail:

There’s still room and reason for self-storage growth in many markets. Some jurisdictions may just need a bit more nudging and enlightenment than others. Good luck out there!

About the Author(s)

Tony Jones

ISS Store Manager, Contributing Editor, Inside Self-Storage

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