Self-storage refuses to be boxed out of manufacturing zones

Locker landlords pushing back against de Blasio’s IBZ proposal

Bill de Blasio and a CubeSmart warehouse
Bill de Blasio and a CubeSmart warehouse

The city’s self-storage industry is knocking off the dust as it prepares for a battle with City Hall over the mayor’s proposal to regulate industrial business zones.

Owners of storage businesses are preparing to push back against a bill Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration is working on that would limit the number of hotels and self-storage facilities allowed in IBZs, Crain’s reported.

Supporters of the legislation say it would help to retain manufacturing jobs in the city, arguing that storage facilities take up key sites, create few jobs and pay low wages.  Detractors, on the other hand, take the position that self-storage centers are an important part of the city’s economy.

SNL Development Group, a Bronx-based company that builds self-storage facilities for CubeSmart and other companies, says that 40 percent of its customers are local businesses such as landscapers who need space to keep equipment and organizations that need warehouse space for documents.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

“We haven’t really seen any evidence that banning industries — banning self- storage — is going to bring manufacturing back,” said Michael Woloz of the lobbying firm Connelly McLaughlin & Woloz, which SNL has retained to challenge the zoning proposal. “The city should not be engaging in policies that ban whole industries from growing and providing a service — a valuable service — that businesses and residents need.”

There are about 1.5 to 3 square feet of storage space for every New York City resident compared to about 7 to 8 square feet per person nationwide, and rental rates have increased by about 19 percent since early 2012 to roughly $301 a month, according to Reis data.

De Blasio’s legislation, which he first proposed more than a year ago, will likely require self-storage facilities to acquire a special permit to open in IBZs. The City Council has indicated it will approve the regulations once the Department of City Planning gets them ready.

“The council has a long-standing commitment to supporting manufacturing and industrial employment and looks forward to aligning our rules to better promote these critical jobs,” a spokesperson told Crain’s. [Crain’s] – Rich Bockmann