Greater Knoxville Business Journal turns a spotlight on self storage

This month’s edition of the Greater Knoxville Business Journal features a new columnist: me.

It’s a great opportunity to write about commercial real estate every month, but readers of this blog won’t be surprised to learn that my first column was about self storage, including the new multi-story projects in the pipeline and the potential challenges posed by technology.


Check it out here and, as always, call me at 865.777.3030 if you hear about new projects or deals in the works.

Memphis REIT to invest in Louisville, Ky., self storage project

Jernigan Capital, a Memphis-based REIT, this month announced plans for a large self storage project in Louisville, Ky.

Jernigan said it has closed a $9.9 million investment in the planned 725-unit, 74,172-square-foot facility. According to a news release, the project will be located on Bardstown Road, with construction expected to finish by the end of 2018. The project is slated to include two climate-controlled buildings.

Memphis-based Storage Development Partners LLC is the developer on the project. For more details, see the news release here.

American Self Storage Expands to Sweetwater, Tennessee

Loudon County-based American Self Storage has opened a new location in Sweetwater, with plans for an expansion in the works.

American opened a facility on New Highway 68, in Sweetwater, this July and has 100 units in operation, including 33 climate-controlled units. The company’s original location is on Gamble Street, in Loudon.

Owner Andy Hodges said they chose Sweetwater because of the high occupancy rates at existing facilities in the community, many of which did not have room to expand. American bought 9 acres on New Highway 68, and plans to open two additional buildings with a total of 70 units by Thanksgiving. They are also planning to add 25 covered spaces for boats and RVs.

“When it’s completely done, this property will be able to hold around 660 units,” Hodges said. “We’re just going to be building as they fill up.”

Hodges said that when the addition is opened in November, the company also plans to install a 40-foot flagpole and a large American flag, along with a plaque that pays tribute to fallen police officers.

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Wine cellars and curb appeal

The Tennessean took the temperature of Nashville’s self-storage industry last week. The takeaway? While population growth and a strong economy have sparked a wave of development, new construction may have peaked.

“You saw record occupancy in the last year and two to where they were able to charge more,” said Alexander Harris,’s web editor. “Nationwide, the consensus is that 2017 is going to be the peak year for construction, then 2018 you’ll see a peak in completions. Nashville is actually a little bit earlier in the cycle, starting to pass its peak.”

For more information, including details about a firm that offers wine storage in its projects, read the full story here.

NC self storage firm looks for acquisition opportunities

A Raleigh, N.C.-based firm has launched a fund that looks to acquire self storage facilities in the Southeast, and convert them to fully automated operations.

10 Federal said in a news release that it has begun fundraising for a $10 million fund that will target “Mom and Pop” facilities throughout the Southeast, particularly in North Carolina.

The company said it has acquired a self storage property called South Point, in Belmont, N.C., which is the first conversion acquisition for the new fund.

“South Point represented an ideal acquisition for the Fund,” Director of Acquisitions Kris Bennett said in the news release. “It was a ‘Mom & Pop’ operated facility with no website, no online advertising, a large property manager salary and rents that trailed the market.”

Enjoy reading Tennessee Storage Broker? You can also get it delivered to your inbox. Submit your email address in the box at the bottom of the right rail, and you’ll get notifications when a new post has been published.

Self-storage exec talks millennial marketing

Be there. Be real. Be efficient.

That was the millennial marketing strategy highlighted at the Tennessee Self Storage Association’s quarterly meeting last week.

The event’s keynote speaker was Daniel Ruble, vice president of marketing at CubeSmart and a University of Tennessee-Knoxville alum. Ruble said that by 2025, 50 percent of U.S. income will be from millennials, defined as the generation born between 1982 and 2000.

While they’re sometimes viewed negatively by older generations, Ruble said millennials’ most significant distinction is simple — their lives have been defined by the technology revolution. The average millennial, he said, has eight connected devices, compared to five for the average Baby Boomer.

What does that mean for marketing to those customers? First, a digital presence — including a well-designed website with pricing information — is crucial. “This is really the cost of entry,” Ruble said. “Millennials expect it.”

Second, it’s crucial to have a strong presence in search engine results. “You have to be presented as a viable option when that customer is in ‘hunt mode,'” Ruble said. He advised attendees to verify their Google Business page, and to consider buying paid search results.

The marketing guru emphasized the importance of authenticity, and said it’s crucial to pay attention to online reviews. When a negative review is posted, he said it’s important to respond quickly.

He also said self storage owners should ask for positive reviews, including handing out cards that explain how customers can leave a review, and following up with an email.

Finally, he said, owners should be efficient, possibly even discouraging some customers from renting. As an example, he said owners might want to avoid marketing to college students if their facilities are mostly full. Instead, they should focus on attracting customers who will be more likely to rent for a long term.

And even as millennials see the world differently, some things never change — like many customers, Ruble said, they love a good deal. “(They) tend to gravitate more toward the units that have some sort of free rent tied to it,” he added.

Enjoy reading Tennessee Storage Broker? You can also get it delivered to your inbox. Submit your email address in the box at the bottom of the right rail, and you’ll get notifications when a new post has been published.

Report: Nashville self storage site sells for $4M an acre

The Tennessean reports that a 0.7-acre site near Charlotte Avenue, in Nashville, has been sold for $2.8 million, in preparation for a self storage and retail facility.

In February, Nashville’s Metro Council approved a zoning change to allow a four-story facility on the site, which is located at 4305 and 4307 Alabama Avenue. The Tennessean reports that a Florida developer has submitted a final site plan for the project, which is currently being reviewed by Metro officials.

A preliminary site plan is available at this link. For more details, see the Tennessean story here.

Enjoy reading Tennessee Storage Broker? You can also get it delivered to your inbox. Submit your email address in the box at the bottom of the right rail, and you’ll get notifications when a new post has been published.

Manager of the Year talks delinquencies, marketing and difficult customers

Last month, Allen Baxter of A+ Storage of Tennessee, property manager for the Nolensville, Tenn., location, was named 2016 Manager of the Year by the Tennessee Self Storage Association.

Baxter has been a property manager with A+ Storage for over 5 years and has received several awards including the A+ Storage Manager of the Year twice. In a Q-and-A with Josh Flory, of NAI Koella Moore, Baxter talked about his success at reducing delinquencies, new strategies for marketing and his most challenging customer interaction.

How did you get into the storage business?
I was looking for a job in the management area and found the ad on Craigslist. I grew up in Nolensville so I thought, ‘Hey, it’s perfect. A job in the town I grew up in.’ I had no clue about the storage business but I’ve learned a lot over the last five years and continued to grow and love the industry.

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Middle Tennessee self storage facility moving forward

The Nashville Post reports that a $10 million self storage project in Germantown will go before Metro planners in April.

Nashville-based Mark Tarver, president of Tarver Properties, is teaming with Jewell Hale and Bobby Kirby on the project. The six-story mixed-use building will offer 90,000 square feet of self-storage and 6,500 square feet of retail and have an address of 1232 Third Ave. North.

For more details, read the full story here.