Shops at 300 Needham Street / EZ Storage (Avison Young)

There’s an old saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. According to, one in 11 Americans pay for space to store the material overflow of the American dream, making the self storage business a $38 billion industry. As people have moved back into downtowns and established neighborhoods with smaller residences like Murray Hill, the self storage industry has followed, filling the need for those who need to store excess personal inventory. This has led to a backlash and restrictions on the industry in some major markets. For example, New York City, San Francisco and Miami have passed restrictions that limit where self-storage units can be built.

In Charlotte, the zoning code was changed in 2015 to include self storage as a part of mixed-use development. The new law requires the bottom floor of a mixed-use building to include at least 50% retail, office, or restaurant space, while the rest can be used for self storage. Seeking to become a better neighbor, the self-storage business has evolved to better fit into urban areas where sense of place and pedestrian centric design are of more importance. With this in mind, here are three mixed-use examples suggesting the next self-storage box proposed for your neighborhood can actually be designed to contribute to walkability if held to a higher standard.

3. My Neighborhood Storage Center

City: Orlando

Location: Southeast corner of Magnolia Avenue and Colonial Drive

Developer: Orlando-based Liberty Investment Properties Inc.

Cost: $20 million

Retail size: 12,000 square feet below a 92,000-square-foot storage center

Tenants: No leases signed

Status: Under construction

A rendering of the future My Neighborhood Storage Center at Magnolia Avenue and Colonial Drive. (Liberty Investment Properties, Inc.)