This story was adapted and updated from a story I wrote about six months ago which was featured on another news outlet. -Christopher
Go through any Niceville Facebook page over the last six months or so, and you’ll notice a pretty common occurrence.
It’s the complaints about storage units. After seeing plenty of these complaints up and down our social media feeds, we decided it was high time someone went and figured out why we are seeing so many getting built.
Here’s What We found:
Storage Units are quickly sucking up a lot of space in the Niceville area. Just a quick Google search will show you that there are 18 different places for you to store your stuff between Niceville, Valparaiso and Bluewater Bay. But the question remains: why?
According to the commercial property executive – a bunch of industry experts – most storage unit markets are wholly saturated with storage units.
That means that people who are building and looking to profit off storage units are looking to less profitable areas to make money. That means places like Niceville will see an influx.
Dr. David Goetsch has a lot of experience under his belt and knowledge about our area in his head. He’s retired Northwest Florida State College Economist. Additionally, he’s written dozens of books and is a lifetime member of the Niceville-Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce. He says three factors are causing a spike in storage space building.
Plain and simple, people are always coming and going with the Air Force Base close by and many need a place to store their belongings between moves.
We have always had plenty of military personnel moving in and out of the Niceville and Valparaiso area, with Eglin Air Force Base right next door to us.
That is where the housing crunch comes in, says Dr. Goetsch. People who are used to having bigger houses with more places to put stuff are having to settle for smaller homes, because the increase in housing prices here and the small inventory means that something’s gotta give.
Storage units are great for people who want to make a lot of money without a lot of overhead.
“If you have dependable renters, then [storage units] are a cash cow,” Goetsch said, “hire a single person to answer the phone, very little maintenance, and people who do the renting do their own work. They come and go and bring their own things to store. It can be a good investment for an individual businessman.”
But what is good for an individual may not be good for the community.
Most people might think the aesthetics are the issue – but the real problem, Goetsch says are the economics of the storage unit.
“From an economic development point of view, [storage units] are very marginal. They create a few construction jobs temporarily while the building is being built. Once it’s built, it’s very low-impact economically. It creates no jobs.
The storage units are already built. So, as far as those go, there isn’t much to be done. But changes can be made going forward to reduce the number of storage places coming into the area. The city council has the right to restrict the type of commercial activity that comes into the area via zoning particular densities in the 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 and me.
Long story short, they are going to keep building storage units as long as they are profitable and are within the City of Niceville’s Code.
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