Public Storage Inc. got the OK to build a new four-story self-storage facility in its corporate backyard—barely.
In a 3-2 vote Jan. 21, the City Council in Glendale, CA, approved Public Storage’s plan for a facility with about 1,500 units. Publicly traded REIT Public Storage, the country’s largest self-storage operator, maintains its corporate headquarters about a mile from the site.
Even those council members who supported the project did so reluctantly, according to the Glendale News-Press:
Councilwoman Laura Friedman, who voted for the 174,266-square-foot facility, said although she’d prefer a more artistic use, the site at 5500 San Fernando Road has sat vacant for too long due to unattractive conditions, including a nearby railroad.
“Everybody’s passed on this site,” Friedman said, noting that she would like to see a company such as Disney or Google buy the 1.39-acre area, but waiting for those opportunities may be fruitless.
In April, Public Storage signed a contract to buy the property $4.1 million. The property sits within the city’s Creative Corridor, a zone created to attract digital and media businesses to the area.
The News-Press describes the mayor’s lackluster support for the project:
Mayor Dave Weaver said he reluctantly approved the project because he couldn’t find a logical reason not to. He said he was upset about the storage facility because it won’t generate as much taxes as other land uses. Retail projects are one of the major tax-generating land uses.
Officials expect the city to net $15,500 annually in property taxes from the facility.
Improving the Image
Self-storage consultant Jim Chiswell said the lack of enthusiasm from the Glendale City Council is representative of the challenges that operators face across the country, especially as the industry enters a new development cycle.
“In terms of resistance to self-storage, the old reputation and image from 30 years ago pales in comparison to what is being built today across the country,” Chiswell told The Storage Facilitator.
To appeal to communities, operators must come up with ways to improve the appearance of new self-storage facilities, he said.
“In the case of Public Storage, they have all that,” Chiswell said. “Their new prototype store is gorgeous. Look at a store they build today versus a store built 20 years ago, and it’s night and day.”
Another factor that Chiswell said that works against self-storage development is that a facility usually doesn’t generate sales tax revenue for municipalities.
“A lot of communities say, ‘We just want tax revenue.’ It is a very frustrating thing,” Chiswell said.