Self Storage and Zoning Woes: How Planning to Appease Could Make All the Difference

While self storage may be the current darling of pandemic-wary investors and REITs, a growing number of townships, municipalities and cities are less affectionate.

Push back from zoning commissions is nothing a seasoned developer hasn’t encountered and should rarely come as a surprise. Your team’s initial research should include past zoning objections and expected areas of opposition. Some of the most common complaints can be answered in the earliest phases of planning, as explored below.

Self storage facilities gained a bad reputation for being unsightly, often described as large, windowless boxes littering highways and interstates. As competition drives development closer and closer to target demographics, investors need to be mindful. Consider including architectural elements common to the region. Invest in landscaping choices that are both appealing and provide screening from roadways or neighboring businesses. Commission a local artist to paint a mural on a portion of the exterior. In short, don’t underestimate the benefit of beautification.

It’s almost always a good idea to lead in with a gesture of goodwill. Perhaps a storage unit could be donated for the use of a nearby elementary school? Hours of employee community service promised to a local charity? Sponsorship of the town’s half-marathon? A fountain installed in the retention pond to beautify the neighboring commercial land? Even a small, financial investment on behalf of the developer can have a large impact on the appeal of the project.

When in doubt – go Green. Almost every municipality in the country is mindful of the environmental impact of new development. Look for opportunities to include Green choices in your building materials when applicable. Consider native and drought-resistant foliage in your landscaping. Is there an option for rooftop solar panels to offset energy use? Researching and selecting Green choices can offer savings in the future and indicate to local officials that your brand is conscientious.

Wise investors should look for opportunities to win over residents and commissioners before an objection is even raised. As the market grows more saturated with new deliveries, developers will need to grow equally competitive in their handling of zoning concerns.

The Mele Storage Group of Cushman & Wakefield

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