With the people comes their stuff: a quiet Stamford self-storage boom
STAMFORD — The boom in apartment building has grabbed the city’s attention in recent years, but another boom — tied to the thousands of units erected— has quietly occurred.
It’s self-storage boom, showcased by a recent rush to build and expand facilities city-wide. One recently opened in the Cove neighborhood as another rises in Waterside. West Side builders, meanwhile, won approvals for yet another self-storage facility project to take shape. Another facility in the neighborhood expanded by 60,000 square feet.
According to city tax and Zoning Board records, more than 200,000 square feet of self-storage space has been built or approved in recent years.
To give you an idea of how much space that is, it’s equal to a little over three quarters of the square feet in the 10-story Government Center.
“Small units mean not a lot of storage space,” said Land Use Bureau Chief Ralph Blessing. “They need a place for their things.”
And like the apartment developments, the bulk of the projects creating housing for people’s things has gone in neighborhood’s lining Interstate 95. But, Blessing said, the Zoning Regulations keep the projects largely in manufacturing zones.
People go in the South End and downtown. Things go in manufacturing zones in the Cove, Waterside and the West Side.
In Waterside, a CubeSmart is rising on Fairfield Avenue, and another CubeSmart opened six weeks ago in the Cove. A West Side Westy Self Storage in 2016 added 60,000 square feet of storage space.
Land use attorney Lisa Feinberg, who pitched the Zoning Board on a recent West Side self-storage project at 11 Leon Place, said it will also be operated by CubeSmart.
Feinberg and her firm, Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey, also represent many of Stamford’s housing builders.
“We’re approached quasi-regularly regarding opportunities for self-storage facilities in town,” Feinberg said. “It probably correlates to the strong apartment presence.”
Feinberg’s project, brought by Stamford-based limited liability company Empire Storage and its principals Anthony Kolich and Jamie Heffernan, calls for 470 storage units.
The parcel’s history, and what its owners wanted to do with the oddly shaped lot, showcase the connected trends and some of the reasons neighbors find self-storage attractive.
In 2017, the plan for the lot was to erect a multi-family housing project. That was met with neighbor opposition, primarily over congestion concerns.
Neighbors later backed the project once it became storage. The new facility was also one of the first shaped by the city’s burgeoning urban design guidelines, making it more distinctive than a concrete block — it has mixed materials and windows.
“The Land Use staff and boards recognize the need for this use in convenient locations, but hold these developers to a high standard when it comes to facade materials and landscaping,” Feinberg said.
Self-storage facilities, unlike housing, generate little traffic, making them potentially attractive neighbors, Blessing said.
But the self-storage boom has some potential downsides, and has met backlash in nearby New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio successfully pushed efforts to curb self-storage sprawl.
Blessing said the land-use worry is that the storage facilities take up manufacturing land without bringing the jobs that manufacturing operations do.
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