Story from Christopher Saul
Flip through any Niceville Facebook group in the last six months or so and you’ll see a post complaining about storage units pretty quickly.
After about the 50th post, I decided to figure out why is this happening here in Niceville.
As we all know, storage units are quickly sucking up a lot of space in the Niceville area. A Google search will tell you there are 18 storage unit places between Niceville, Valparaiso and Bluewater bay.
According to Commercial Property Executive, a bunch of industry experts, most major storage unit markets (think big cities) are completely saturated with storage unit places. That means the people that are building storage units are looking for less-profitable-but-still-profitable places (that means us) to make some money.
Economist Dr. David Goetsch has a couple of reasons why we are seeing this in the area.
1. The military presence
- “We have a lot of transient people coming through here, who have things they need to store,” says Dr. Goetsch. “So, for a businessman, building a storage unit is probably a good investment.”
2. The housing crunch.
- “We’ve got people moving in here, and they are having to live in apartments. So they are putting their things in storage that they used to keep in a house,” Dr. Goetsch said.
And 3 – it’s just a really good business model for someone who wants to make a lot of money with little overhead.
- “If you have dependable renters, then it is a cash cow,” Dr. Goetsch said. “Hire one person to answer the phone, very little maintenance, and the people that do the renting do the work. They come and go. So it can be a good investment for an individual businessman.”
Yes, but – what is good for the owner of the storage units isn’t so great for the rest of the community.
- “From an economic development point of view, it is very marginal, it’s very minimal,” Dr. Goetsch Said. “It creates a few construction jobs temporarily while the building is being built. Once it’s done, those go away. From that point on it is very low economic impact. Because it creates no jobs. They very few it does create are minimum wage jobs.”
Changes can be made going forward to reduce the number of storage places coming into the area. City Councils have the right to restrict the type of commercial activity they allow in an area by codifying particular rules or densities into city zoning ordinances. That has to be taken up for a vote by the city council.
Alternatively, the city council can use enticements like tax breaks for businesses that come into the city or are started by people like you or me.
Long story short, they’ll keep building storage as long as it’s profitable, and within the rules of our zoning ordinances. Dr. Goetsch says there is a lot more storage now than there was 5 years ago but the market is not yet saturated here in Niceville.