Thursday, August 18

Storage Business is Booming in the Twin Cities, in Spite of City Objections

The demand for storage facilities is growing by the day, but businesses are often running into roadblocks when they try to open a new facility or expand an existing one.

Cities are notoriously not big fans of storage facilities, for a number of reasons. They’re lacking in curb appeal, as they are mostly just bland, garage-like buildings. These facilities also do little to boost tax rolls or generate jobs. City governments are much more likely to welcome businesses that will boost revenue or provide jobs for the community.

However, in spite of city disapproval, the storage business is booming across the country. Over the years, storage units have gone from temporary to long-term storage solutions for many people. According to a survey by the Self Storage Association, 30% of storage renters have had their units for more than two years.

Recent growth is also a result of more and more people moving into apartments; however, the majority of storage unit owners live in homes with basements, attics, and garages. The problem, really, is that we don’t know how to curtail our buying or collecting habits, based on the amount of space we have to store it in.

“We don’t have enough places to put our toys,” said Troy Bix, vice president of the trade publication Inside Self Storage. He said it’s also a business premised on emotion. “Granny had this really cool sewing machine or piano. God forbid we actually use it. But we store it because it would upset her if we got rid of it, even if she’s already six feet under.”

“Many households and businesses do not have the space to accommodate all their items. Self Storage provides a less expensive alternative and frees up valuable areas” says Victor Dante, CEO at USSelfStorage.com

The Minneapolis/St. Paul area is filling up as more and more storage facilities are coming to town. Brooklyn Park recently approved plans to expand an existing facility and to build a new one. Another facility in Blaine is under construction on the site of a long-vacant auto dealership. An abandoned building in St. Paul was converted into a storage facility, and the city is considering one that would go into a warehouse next to the historic Schmidt Brewery.

But there are benefits to be reaped from storage facilities giving dormant property a new life. Metro Storage LLC came to the Twin Cities a few years ago and entered the market by converting an empty Target store in Maple Grove to a self storage facility. It is currently redeveloping a former Dodge auto dealership in Blaine, keeping and remodeling the vacant sales room and building a three-story addition.

City officials are still struggling with the self storage takeover. “I think I would have liked to have seen something that would go back to the 100 employees who were at Blaine Dodge,” said Mayor Tom Ryan at the council meeting where the project was approved.

But Ryan and council members praised the sleek look of the new building. “They’re doing a nice job on a site that had become kind of a sore spot on Highway 65,” said Bryan Schafer, planning and community development director.

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