By JUDD WILSON
Storage is booming in Kootenai County, says Steel Structures of America President Justin Sternberg. It’s driven by the area’s housing growth and has led to better facilities with more amenities than in the past, say local storage facility owners in agreement.
Steel Structures of America has recently completed multiple large storage projects in Kootenai County, such as Eagle Rock RV & Boat Storage in Post Falls with 80,000 square feet of storage space,
Eagle Rock co-owner Betsy Legg said the facility, which caters mainly to customers who have paid high prices for their toys, is heavy on security. She and her business partner, Renee DiFronzo, are both retired from the California Highway Patrol and previously served in the military, said Legg, with one of them on the grounds 24/7. The facility features a state-of-the-art security system and completely fenced-in perimeter, she added.
“Security is what sets us apart,” she said.
Having been storage patrons themselves, they designed the new facility with maneuverability in mind. She said Eagle Rock goes 30 percent above industry standards in providing room for moving around boats, RVs, and other recreational toys. Eagle Rock offers storage space in eight different sizes up to 14 by 50 feet and has a virtually unlimited amount of outdoor spaces available, Legg said.
The loss of spaces to park large RVs and boats has fueled the storage boom in Kootenai County, said Ed Morse, owner of A2Z Storage in Hayden. Most of the newer subdivisions here have covenants that restrict or prohibit parking boats and RVs in the driveway or curbside, Morse said.
“A lot of the new modern subdivision lots are simply not large enough to accommodate much storage onsite and that does create some demand for storage facilities depending on the type of storage services they offer,” he said.
The industry can be volatile, said Morse, who watched the industry for decades as a real estate appraiser. However, with all the new residential developments, the market for self-storage is strong in Kootenai County, he said. A good portion of demand for storage is because Kootenai County has reached historically high rates of home sales, Morse said.
Morse also pointed out that residents in the Northwest and mountain states require more storage on average than the rest of the country because of the region’s snowy winters and lifestyles built around outdoor recreation. People here tend to have more jet skis, ATVs, and snowmobiles than residents in Seattle, Portland, or Reno, he said.
The county boasts a tremendous amount of square footage in storage units, Sternberg said.
“Everyone is full,” with people even renting units under construction prior to their completion, he said. On average, mini-storage projects often take 9-12 months for completion. Larger projects may take well over a year for completion, Sternberg said.
SSA has recently completed Hagadone Boat Storage in Post Falls with nearly 60,000 square feet of storage space, All Storage Northwest in Hayden with more than 70,000 square feet of storage, and hundreds of thousands more square feet of storage at facilities in Bonner County, Spokane County, and elsewhere across the Northwest. He’s working on 65,000 square feet of storage for BlackStone Properties in Hayden, 65,000 square feet at Post Falls Secure Storage, and 21,000 square feet for North Star Storage Corp. in Post Falls. SSA is under contract to do 52,000 square feet at Timberland Storage in Coeur d’Alene and to add 19,000 square feet to Landmark Storage in Coeur d’Alene, he said.
“Developers and investors and property owners are investing more in their complexes to give the customer more options,” such as metered electricity, lights, and timers, with rents upward of $300-500 per month, Sternberg said.
Statistics from the SpareFoot Storage Beat tell the tale. Self-storage prices in Coeur d’Alene previously lagged behind Boise, Meridian, Nampa, and Caldwell, but since 2013, Coeur d’Alene has had the state’s most expensive average self-storage price. The average price of a storage unit in Coeur d’Alene has risen from nearly $50 in 2011-12 to more than $70 in 2013, and more than $100 in 2016-17. However, self-storage per square foot in Coeur d’Alene is cheaper than Boise, Meridian, and Nampa, according to the SpareFoot data.
Sternberg and Morse agreed that the region’s strong growth bodes well for the storage industry.
“People are cautiously optimistic” after going through the last recession, Sternberg said.
Nationwide self-storage construction is up since a low of less than $500 million in 2011 to nearly $2 billion in 2016 and more than $3 billion in 2017. Across the country, 9.4 percent of households rent self-storage space for an average monthly fee of $91.14. The industry generates $38 billion annually, according to SpareFoot.