Self-storage operator Metro Storage recently bought a former Sears employee training center just outside Chicago that it will transform into a 700-unit storage facility.

The company paid $2.9 million for the 54,000-square-foot building and 7 acres at 1951 Waukegan Road in Bannockburn, IL. Renovation of the 50-year-old former Sears building is scheduled to begin this month.

Two new buildings will be developed on the site, which will deliver a total of 97,500 square feet of storage. Metro Storage plans to complete the facility during the fourth quarter of 2014. The facility will be the 17th location in the Chicago area for Lake Forest, IL-based Metro Storage.

Matthew Nagel, chairman of Metro Storage, said in a news release: “The property has great visibility from a major thoroughfare, and the building is well suited for conversion to storage.”

The company declined to discuss the project in further detail.

Metro Storage operates more than 75 facilities in 11 states.

Development heating up

Other operators also are developing new facilities in the Chicago market.

Atlanta-based Safeguard Self Storage is developing two facilities in the city at a cost of about $15 million. Those projects are slated to open in 2015. The company already has 10 locations in the Chicago suburbs.

Northbrook, IL-based residential developer Banner Apartments LLC recently paid $1.6 million for a 24,000-square-foot site in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago where it will develop a self-storage facility, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

As of last year, the Chicago area had 855 storage facilities, with 4.28 square feet of storage space per person, according to the 2014 Self Storage Almanac. That’s below the national average of 7.35 square feet per person.

In 2013, Chicago ranked fifth among U.S. metro areas for rental growth in the storage industry, according to the almanac. Operators in Chicago saw rental rates for a 10×10 unit grow by 6 percent from 2012 to 2013. Meanwhile, occupancy in the Chicago area increased by 3.8 percent in 2013 compared with previous year, ranking it 10th for occupancy growth among U.S. metro areas.

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Alexander Harris