Self Storage in and around downtown


In the last few years, we’ve seen new storage buildings on South Street and Capital Boulevard. As I say in this Pic of the Week post, perhaps the empty nesters who are moving into downtown Raleigh are downsizing on space but not their stuff.


The reality is, Storage is one of the best investments you can do. You usually recoup investment after 2 years. You own the land. If DT grows out, you have prime property which to sell or build. I don’t like it, but I understand it.


It’s pretty clear there is a need for mini storage supporting downtown. The main difference is on Capitol Blvd, the land being used wasn’t suitable for residential or storefront commercial uses…its not part of the walkable cityscape. The one on South street very much is in a walkable location…it’s within the original 1792 grid. Not only does it come across as a waste, but almost flippant that the developer so readily put their profits and business plan above the bigger vision for downtown. I get it…it’s capitalism blah blah. But if enough people are unsatisfied with it, maybe it wasn’t the best capitalistic outcome. Mini storages are really just parking decks for stuff instead of cars. Borderline blight from the moment they are built. An expanded, lively and active 4th Ward would be my preference to some brand new blight.


Capital Blvd, from Peace to Wake Forest, is largely hampered by nature of the road itself. Its design has sent a signal to drivers that’s it’s more of a highway than a city street. I’m hoping that the redesign of it from Peace to Wade is going to change that, but I’m not terribly hopeful that it will.
That said, I can make an argument that these self storage places make sense where driving if the only real option to access them since you really only go there when you are taking things to them, or removing things from them. Those things also tend to be large or you’d just store them at home.
Having a self storage in a walkable neighborhood is a travesty. Hopefully, the developer built this building on South Street so that it could be converted to something else in the future.


Not to get too far off topic, but those semi-restricted access boulevards from the 50’s and 60’s feel like they are right out of a dystopian future to me. I mean…they *were built fore exactly that creepy, mindless, perfect white bread world on the magazine covers. They are neither city streets nor highways. Wade Ave here and Wendover Blvd in Greensboro are also the same sort of construct. When money dried up for interchanges (or opposition halted a grand vision of some sort) then traffic signals were plopped down in some places and we were really left with a nothing of a road. So now the drive cuts along these things are good for only the lowest end uses, used car lots, porn shops, gas station or two, car repair, mini storage.


While I understand that the nature of these types of buildings is to maximize their allowable rentable area, and that the elevations that are presented to the city for approval (pre)tend to make a nod to architectural “detail”, the reality is that these buildings are oftentimes an affront to their communities architecturally.
We have to demand better design or more space to cover up these monstrosities’s facades with more trees.


At least there will be no qualm when this property is redeveloped. People might even volunteer to help tear it down when the time comes.


me, me, me, me, me!


Maybe it’ll come sooner. I can’t see why the self-storage industry isn’t due for disruption. With shipping being so cheap it might be more cost-effective to build a warehouse on the outskirts of town, let the company do the logistics, and have it shipped to you the next day. Just pull out an app and request your stuff. They’ll pick it up when you’re done.

If the cost was competitive, I think it would wreck these self-storage locations located inside town.


Except that the retired couple who’s moving downtown after selling their house isn’t always going to be comfortable with new technologies.
That said, I’m all up for that disruption to happen sooner rather than later! Go do it!!!


I believe Amazon is already equipped to handle this. Their [new] Garner warehouse can surely handle all the mini storage needs in downtown Raleigh. (excellent idea btw)


A couple things, firstly let me say I helped construct that building. It’s always cool to see your work on the internet.

As for as a service like you are discussing, that’s a warehouse business and will not eliminate self storage. I’ve worked in self storage, so I have some first hand knowledge here. Essentially, in the early days of the 1970s, self storage had to fight the legal system to be recognized as something different from a warehouse. With self storage, the company has very, very little liability to belongings being stored. This allows storage to be dirt cheap. With a warehouse, the companies are responsible, and with actually touching your stuff, that’s even more responsibility. These businesses, usually, have very little actual physical costs. It’s the lawsuits that is the real overhead. With no liability, the most a self storage lawsuit pays out is a couple thousand. A warehouse can end up being on the hook for 10s of thousands. People don’t like it when you sell their stuff to the highest bidder, which creates lots of lawsuits.


Wow. Interesting. I hadn’t known about that thanks. So sounds like any new storage business model would have to consider this.


But also.