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More storage units crop up in the valley

There's a storage war afoot in the Kanawha Valley - a war to keep up with demand, that is.

Contractors are busy at several sites constructing new storage units that will be rented out. 

Initial work is under way at two sites in South Charleston, one at the former Rock Lake Putt-Putt course parking lot and the other along Second Avenue near the Microtel Inn & Suites.

When completed, they will be the city's fourth and fifth storage unit businesses, and the first to offer climate-controlled storage.

Bob Anderson, executive director of South Charleston's Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he's been surprised at how demand has grown for storage areas inside city limits and how quickly they fill up.

"They're just to capacity - they've got a waiting list for people to rent them," Anderson said. "There's just a lot of needs out there for more storage places."

Appalachian Mini-Storage owner Mark Perine is one of those hoping to fill that need.

Perine plans to build three climate-controlled storage unit buildings at the Rock Lake property.

He already owns non-climate controlled units in Mink Shoals and Charleston. In addition to the Rock Lake site, he's building a climate-controlled unit in Cross Lanes and is in negotiations to build a third climate-controlled storage area at a third site in the valley later this year. 

"I'm more than doubling this year the size of my business," Perine said.

While storage units have peppered the valley for sometime, Perine said local consumers are shifting away from traditional units in favor of climate-controlled facilities. 

He said residents who use the units to store furniture and family memorabilia, along with businesses and agencies that need to store legal documents or medical files, require more than just a garage site in an outdoor metal building.

"A lot of people who have put their stuff in traditional storage have come back several years later to find their stuff bug-infected, molded, mice got into them, or found their stuff was ruined because of the humidity and temperatures," Perine said.

Climate-controlled units, on the other hand, offer storage inside larger metal buildings that have year-round temperature and humidity controls.

"The climate controlled is more of the Cadillac of the storage as opposed to the other type," Perine said. "Plus, the climate-controlled is easier to maintain because you don't have all that worry for pests and things of that nature."

Jon Burdette, owner of Burdette Reality Improvement Inc. in Charleston, also talked of the shift to climate-controlled storage 

Burdette's company has been working in local real estate development for the last 46 years, but he said in the early 1980s he started building storage units under a subsidiary company, A-1 Commercial Storage.

Burdette recently opened a 23,000-square-foot, climate-controlled storage facility in Jefferson that's already filled.

He's now building a 20,000-square-foot, climate-controlled building just off the Cross Lanes exit of Interstate 64. Once that building is finished, he plans to build another 60,000- to 80,000-square-foot building on an adjacent two-acre tract.

Burdette said he started seeing more interest in climate-controlled storage about 10 years ago and finds it's now the preferred type of facility for most customers.

"I think if you jump back 10 years ago, you saw more companies wanting it for their files and for keeping documents," Burdette said.

"Now it's just a broad range of customers," he said. "After all, we're a consumer-based country, and we've got to have a place to put all of it."

While rents for climate-controlled units cost about twice as much, Burdette said customers get more than just temperature control. 

 "To some extent it is more secure," he said.

In his case, the units all are inside a larger building that has an electronic security system at its entrance and cameras throughout.

Burdette also said his buildings have quarters for a live-in caretaker. That person helps maintain the building and assists customers.

Perine said he and Burdette were just a couple of the locally owned storage unit companies operating throughout the valley. Many other companies are headquartered out of state.

Perine said the business has proved to be a stable investment over the years and provides advantages over other large-scale warehousing operations.

"If you have a building that's say 10,000 square feet, you might have 75 customers in there," he said. "If you lose your customer, you lose maybe $100 a month, whereas if you own a warehouse and lose a customer, you lose everything.

"By diversifying, you lower your risk and that makes a good real estate investment," he said.

Contact writer Jared Hunt at business@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.


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