Amsdell plots conversion in Cleveland, sets sights on more acquisitions

December 19, 2013 1
Amsdell plots conversion in Cleveland, sets sights on more acquisitions

There’s no place like home.

Cleveland-based self-storage operator Compass Self Storage has inked a deal to develop its only hometown self-storage facility.

Opening Set for Summer 2014
Compass, an affiliate of the Amsdell Companies, bought three dilapidated buildings in downtown Cleveland for $1 million and will convert them into a single 700-unit climate-controlled facility. The facility is poised to benefit from downtown Cleveland’s burgeoning residential market.

“Cleveland has thousands and thousands of new apartments that have been built and will be built,” said Todd Amsdell, president of the Amsdell Companies. “We see ourselves as one of these needed services to shore up the residential model downtown.”

Amsdell said the buildings—the largest dating back to the 1920s—matched the company’s requirements for location, accessibility, zoning and floor loads.

“Our only regret is that they are not bigger,” Amsdell said.

The buildings, at 1545-1559 E. Superior Ave., cover 60,000 square feet of rentable space.

The new facility is expected to open sometime next summer. For now, the Compass facilities in Detroit are the closest to the Cleveland headquarters.

Compass has 40 locations in 10 states. Amsdell Companies, which launched the Compass brand in 2007, has been developing self-storage facilities since the 1970s. Other operators have long since acquired the facilities it previously developed in the Cleveland area.

Cleveland is one of the country’s most undersupplied self-storage markets, according to a recent report from Cushman & Wakefield. The metro area has 217 facilities with 5.43 square feet of storage space per person, the report says, with projected demand of 6.61 square feet per person.

Amsdell Shaker Heights

The planned Compass Self Storage facility in Shaker Heights, OH

Moving Forward in Shaker Heights
In addition to the downtown project, Amsdell is moving ahead with a second redevelopment project in suburban Shaker Heights. For about three years, the company has sought zoning approval to convert a mid-century car dealership into a storage facility.

“The community always rebuffed our advances and made it clear that there would be no self-storage in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Up until a year ago, they have been consistent with that thought,” Amsdell said.

But zoning hurdles for the project have been cleared, and Amsdell said the company is about to close on the purchase of the Shaker Heights property.

Development vs. Acquisition
The company has turned to development in its own backyard in part because of a lack of suitable facilities for sale.

“We are always looking for acquisitions. If we could have found something here that matched up to our criteria, we would have,” Amsdell said.

Nonetheless, the company was an active buyer this year, picking up 11 properties in other markets. Just this month, the company finalized a deal for a 77,000-square-foot facility in Rosewood, MI, its 10th location in that state.

Amsdell expects its acquisition pace to remain hot next year.

“I’m thinking 2014 will be fairly similar to 2013, with another four developments getting started and another 10 to 12 acquisitions,” Amsdell said.

Images courtesy of Amsdell Companies


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