Another storage facility will go up in Palm Coast, this one on 12 acres owned by a church on North Old Kings Road, about a mile north of Palm Coast Parkway.
The facility will be on the west side of Old Kings Road, parallel to I-95 to the west and the backyards of the houses along Foxhall Lane on the east side of Old Kings Road. First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Palm Coast, which owns the land, is immediately to the north of the acreage, with the Palm Coast Elks Lodge to the south.
The church bought the 15-acre parcel in 1997 for $88,500. The land is valued at over $800,000 today, according to the property appraiser. The storage facility would occupy 12 of the 15 acres.
The Palm Coast planning board approved a special exception to the commercially zoned parcel to allow for the storage facility. One of its members asked a question on many residents’ mind: “There seems to be a proliferation of storage facilities in Flagler County, Palm Coast,” David Ferguson asked a representative of the applicant. “How do you decide it’s a good business decision?”
A representative of the developer said it does “significant market research to understand the market demand of the area,” taking into account existing and planned facilities, rental rates, and so on.
“Over the past three years self-storage occupancy rates have risen from around 90% to as much as 96%,” The Economist reported in June. “Demand has been especially high in Florida, Texas and the sunbelt.” The migration is led by homebuyers looking for smaller homes, mostly in residential zones that don’t allow the parking of commercial or recreational vehicles.
The representative of the Old Kings facility referred to “very robust software” that the developer uses to understand how to respond to demand.
The Economist specified: “Storage firms have also embraced dynamic-pricing software. Knowing up-to-the-minute market rates allows them to avoid undercharging customers. This is of a piece with the sector’s operational efficiency (a small staff keeps labour costs low; preparing a unit for a new customer requires little more than a quick sweep) and with its drive to modernise.”
The Old Kings Road facility will employ only two to three full-time people, with video surveillance.
Planning Director Ray Tyner noted that even approved applications do not translate to actual buildings. “I know that we’ve had several special exemptions that were approved, but there are several that have not been constructed,” Tyner said. “I don’t know if they ever will be constructed.”
The three-story building will be 91,000 square feet (about half the size of a Walmart Supercenter), accommodating 619 indoor storage units and 146 outdoor, covered recreational vehicle and boat storage spaces. The site includes wetlands along Old Kings Road that will be preserved, as will a 70-foot-wide wooded buffer between Old Kings Road and the covered RV and boat storage section. The buffer of wetlands and woods will be more than twice as wide between the road and the three-story building.
The planning board ratified a dozen conditions for the special exception–conditions typically imposed on storage facilities in the city–prohibiting on-site maintenance on vehicles other than basic washing and detailing, tire changing and other such minor, routine matters. Curbing will be required along all paved areas bordering the floodplain, to reduce contamination. No on-site leasing or rental of boats will be allowed, nor could storage units be used as business or retail fronts. Commercial signage, other than the facility’s own, will be prohibited.
The applicant is engineer Wesley Mills of Mills, Short and Associates of Vero Beach. The proposal drew no input or concerns from neighboring property owners as the application was processing. The city informed 21 property owners by certified mail of the application–essentially, most of the property owners along Foxhall Lane.
The application was approved unanimously. The developer will next submit a technical site plan. That will be reviewed by city planners and brought to the planning board for approval. Like last week’s approval of the special exception, the site plan will not go before the City Council.