Phoenix-based U-Haul International Inc., which operates more than 1,300 self-storage facilities across North America and frequently recycles existing structures for its new locations, is converting three more properties to self-storage in Alabama, Georgia and Illinois. It’s also seeking zoning for two more conversion projects in Connecticut and Oklahoma.
U-Haul is transforming the former Hardie-Tynes Co. Inc. complex in Birmingham, Ala., to self-storage. The property at 800 28th St. N. offers hitch installation, moving and packing supplies, and truck and trailer rentals. Once renovated, it’ll contain 1,000 indoor, climate-controlled units, and space for 300 U-Box portable-storage containers.
Founded in 1895, Hardie-Tynes was a manufacturer of large-scale engineered industrials parts. “Hardie-Tynes Co. manufactured for the U.S. Navy, and almost all the ships and submarines used in World War II featured their parts," said Scott Fall, president of the U-Haul Co. of Central Alabama. “We are excited
to preserve and grow this building’s history. The bones of the building are strong, and it will be a recognizable facility proudly representing Birmingham for many years to come.”
Downtown Birmingham is undergoing a revitalization, Fall said. “Old office buildings are being turned into housing, and the Central City neighborhood is booming. We are excited to be a part of this beautification effort.”
U-Haul Co. also acquired a 324,000-square-foot warehouse in Stockbridge, Ga., that it intends to partially convert to self-storage. Once complete, U-Haul Mobility & Storage at Eagles Landing, at 471 Eagles Landing Parkway, will contain 1,800 indoor storage units. In addition, it’ll house a new regional office for the company. The operation will encompass 108,000 square feet of the space, with the remaining 216,000 square feet available for lease. The property will feature a sidewalk expansion and charging station for golf carts, and a biking and walking path. U-Haul also plans to allocate space for 300 U-Box portable-storage containers and 40 rental trucks.
The company has already converted a portion of a two-building complex at 1975 W. North Ave. in Melrose Park, Ill. The site previously served as a corporate office for grocery-store owner Jewel-Osco. The 5.17-acre facility contains 924 storage units, and offers truck and trailer rentals, towing equipment, and moving and packing supplies. Once the 118,166-square-foot space is renovated, it’ll include 1,300 indoor, temperature-controlled units.
“We’ve been looking to expand in this area, and we’re excited to bring our self-storage product to Melrose Park,” said Benjamin Shock, president of the U-Haul Co. of Central Chicago.
In addition to the existing conversion projects, U-Haul is seeking zoning approval for properties in Naugatuck, Conn., and Shawnee, Okla.
The Naugatuck Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on April 18 to discuss the company’s plans for a vacant grocery store in the Crosspointe Plaza Shopping Center at 96 Cross St. U-Haul wants to redevelop the 52,735-square-foot space into indoor self-storage. The plans also include 70 U-Box portable-storage containers and a 20-foot-by-30-foot canopy for return-vehicle inspections, according to a source. U-Haul also plans to upgrade the building façade, and relocate the curbed islands and light poles.
A similar zoning request that involves converting a former Kmart in Shawnee, Okla., to self-storage has been tabled after residents opposed the plan. Shawnee City Commissioners unanimously agreed to defer the proposal after city manager Justin Erickson suggested U-Haul present a more detailed plan for the 8-acre property at 2327 N. Harrison, according to a source.
Vacant since October, the building contains 84,000 square feet of space. U-Haul would convert about 50,000 square feet to indoor, climate-controlled storage. The facility would also offer the sale of moving and packing supplies, and truck and trailer rentals, according to Scott Brackin, marketing company president for the U-Haul Co. of Oklahoma.
“Customers would be able to drive inside and load/unload out of the rain, cold or hot weather,” Brackin said. “I believe we are offering Shawnee residents something different than what’s around right now.”
Some residents disagreed during an April 2 public hearing, noting the proliferation of storage sites in the city. “We have self-storage all over town. It’s getting to where we kind of look like we have warehouses everywhere,” said Andrea Brown, who also expressed concern about a decrease in property values for homes near the facility.
Pam Cook, a manager for a nearby storage facility, said the city didn’t need more storage. “It’s going to hurt the rest of us in our little businesses and the U-Haul business we’ve already got.”
The facility’s design was also discussed during the meeting, particularly how the parked trucks and trailers would look. “I would hope that if we [commissioners] have any further input, not only can we try to make it so that it looks better, I don’t want to have another parking lot like the U-Haul we have up on North Harrison,” said Cody Deem, planning commissioner.
Deem also asked if landscaping would be a part of the design. Justin DeBruin, community development director, noted the site wouldn’t have any required landscaping.
From a business standpoint, Brackin noted that U-Haul doesn’t plan to pack the parking lot with rental trucks. “Our goal is to have them out hauling things,” he said.
Another person who took issue with the proposal was Loree Hopkins, who represented Hopkins Dental Clinic. The business would be across from facility’s street entrance on the north side. In addition to concerns about damage to the curbing, landscaping and vehicles at her property, Hopkins worried about possible criminal activity, particularly after hours. “We are a staff predominantly of women who arrive to work long before dawn and leave sometimes long after dark,” she said, adding that she’d rather see retail or another development that would be more beneficial to the community. “[Something] that we all would utilize, that we all might go to, and that would also increase the revenue through taxes for the community.”
Brackin noted U-Haul was willing to build fencing around the site to ease neighbors’ concerns. Site security would include LED lighting, individual unit alarms and video cameras.
Established in 1945, U-Haul owns more than 44 million square feet of storage space. The company’s corporate sustainability initiatives, which support infill development to help local communities lower their carbon footprint, has led to dozens of conversion projects in recent years.
Markets Insider, U-Haul Reveals Plans for Former Hardie-Tynes Co. in Birmingham
Rebusiness Online, U-Haul Acquires 324,000 SF Warehouse South of Atlanta, Plans 1,800-Unit Self-Storage Facility, Regional Office
PR Newswire, U-Haul to Offer 1,300 Self-Storage Rooms at Former Jewel-Osco Office
Citizen’s News, Zoners Set Hearing for Proposed UHaul Facility
News-Star, Shawnee City Commission: Kmart Site Rezone Request Deferred