U-Haul Self-Storage Development Faces Zoning Challenges in Framingham, MA

Phoenix-based Amerco Real Estate Co., the acquisition and development entity for U-Haul International Inc., could face city opposition to a self-storage conversion project it’s pursuing in Framingham, Mass. The company acquired a five-story former office building at 15 Pleasant St. Connector in April for $4.4 million, but officials say they were unaware the city was considering zoning changes in its commercial areas that would prohibit self-storage as an acceptable use, according to the source.

Though the zoning change was first considered by the city five years ago, the planning board only recently revisited the proposal. The intent is to create more amenities, attract retail and provide accessibility to cyclists and pedestrians for properties near the Southborough, Mass., border, including those in the 9/90 Corporate Center and Framingham Technology Park, where the U-Haul property is located. The measure would also create new “corporate mixed-use zones” near Exit 12 of the Massachusetts Turnpike. Under current zoning, the self-storage project would most likely be an allowable use, the source reported.

The original glass-top structure was built in 1969. It was most recently occupied by biotechnology company Genzyme, which vacated the property in 2012. Previous owner Normandy Real Estate Partners won approval in 2014 to expand the building from 95,000 to 150,000 square feet, but it’s not clear if that project was executed, since it had trouble attracting office tenants.

Earlier this month, Richard J. DeAngelis, a local attorney representing Amerco, asked the planning board to remove storage and distribution from its list of uses that would be prohibited under the rezoning changes. Planners rejected the request on grounds the self-storage facility wouldn’t me the mixed-use are more attractive, according to the source.

“I would agree that it’s unfortunate that it’s a prohibited use now for your particular client, but I think in the long run this bylaw is good for the community, and good for that area,” planner Tom Mahoney said during the meeting.

Established in 1945, Phoenix-based U-Haul owns more than 44 million square feet of storage space. The company’s corporate sustainability initiatives, which support infill development to help local communities lower their carbon footprint, has led to dozens of conversion projects in recent years.

Amerco Real Estate and U-Haul are subsidiaries of AMERCO, which is also the parent company of Oxford Life Insurance Co. and Repwest Insurance Co.

Source:
MetroWest Daily News, Plans for New Framingham U-Haul Facility in Question

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