Barely 24 hours after the Palm Coast City Council approved the rezoning and special exception for a self-storage facility on Old Kings Road, across from the Hidden Lakes subdivision, the Palm Coast Planning Board Wednesday evening recommended approval of a special exception for a separate self-storage facility just two parcels to the north, nearer the Toscana subdivision.
The 23-acre facility approved Tuesday, called Secure Space, drew significant public opposition, almost all from Hidden Lakes residents. The latest facility, a proposed 13-acre plan for “mini-warehouses, office warehouses and self-storage,” as it is described in a city analysis, drew an almost empty chamber and not a single voice in opposition. It will be located on the east side of Old Kings Road just north of the entrance to the Toscana subdivision, and parallel with the weigh station on I-95, to the west.
The Planning Board approved the special exception 6-0 in a brief hearing.
Like Secure Space, RF2 Storage, as it’s been identified so far, would accommodate RVs and boats, neither of which may be parked in Palm Coast residential neighborhoods. Six self-storage buildings numbering 698 storage units would total 87,000 square feet, with an additional 68,600 square feet of 127 covered spaces for boats and RVs. (The number of units and spaces is still fluid.) Heavy-duty trucks, semi tractor trailers and dump trucks will not be allowed as storage. Nor will buses, shipping containers or large construction equipment.
“The site is bound by conservation area on the east which provides an excellent buffer between the subject property and the residential development to the east,” Planner Estelle Lens told the planning board. That buffer is about 650 feet wide, with additional buffers of 25 to 120 feet around the property itself. The parcel is zoned general commercial, a designation that does not allow self-storage facility except through special exception. That’s what developer Walker Douglas was seeking before the board.
Irvine, Calif.-based Jeffrey and Robert Friedman have owned the property since 2003, when they bought it for $1.36 million. “Our company, Douglas Property and Development, was approached last year by that landowner to sort of determine how best to monetize a property–do we sell it today for its current use under Comm-2,” the commercial zoning designation, “or do we determine what the highest and best use is, developed that ourselves.”
A traffic analysis found that as a self-storage business, the facility would generate an additional 359 average daily trips, including 40 trips at peak hours. Walker, addressing the concerns of added traffic, said it was doubtful that a single commercial enterprise would build a 200,000 square foot facility at the site, though that would have produced its own significantly higher level of vehicle traffic. On the other had, had the site been used for, say, even a 6,000 square foot gas station and convenience store, it would have generated 358 peak-hour vehicle trips
“Regarding public participation,” Lens said, “the applicant met the 14-day requirement of sending certified mail to abutting properties for tonight’s planning and land development regulation board public hearing. And staff has not received any phone calls nor emails objecting to this request.” The request will not appear before the City Council, since it is only a special exception–not a rezoning, as was the case with Secure Space. The next step would be a technical site plan, which the developer would again submit to the planning board for approval. “Obviously we’ve got a lot of buildable land left after that,” he said.
“The reason we’re going forward with self storage and RV and boat storage is, we saw the writing on the wall last year. And I know you all are familiar at this point with the figure that Palm Coasters pay about 50 percent more on average for storage than folks in Daytona or St. Augustine or Jacksonville, ” Douglas said. “So pair that with the fact that we’re not putting our RVs or boats in our yards or in our driveways in Palm Coast. We have sort of like a captive market with this built-in demand and a pretty severe shortage, hence the 50 percent premium. So it was sort of a no brainer for us. It’s a great use. It’s really low impact for that piece of property.” He described the expected traffic “about as light as of a trip generation as you’re going to get.”
Palm Coast currently has nine self-storage facilities with current business-tax receipts. The facilities approved or recommended this week would bring the total to 11. But self-storage as a business is booming nationally, as well as in Palm Coast and Flagler. (See: “Here, There, Everywhere: Why Self-Storage Facilities Are Booming All Over Flagler, and Will Keep Booming.”)