Might NorthPoint Development’s new project in Farmington Hills, MI serve as a potential template for future self-storage developments as America’s population ages?

The Riverside, MO-based NorthPoint earlier this summer got the go-ahead from Farmington Hills, a city of 81,000 people northwest of Detroit, to build a new complex that includes one of its Stonecrest Senior Living facilities and a new Beyond Self Storage facility, also owned by NorthPoint.

If all goes well, the Beyond Self Storage facility, with 691 storage units, could be open by next summer, with the Stonecrest Senior living facility, with 92 residential units, opening soon after.

A perfect match?

Benjiman Hagedorm, NorthPoint’s vice president of business development on the self-storage side, said the Farmington Hills project will be the first time NorthPoint has built its branded senior-living and self-storage products side by side.

“We haven’t found other opportunities in the past,” said Hagedorm. “We’d like to do more. We always want our self-storage facilities close to multi-family developments.”

Hagedorm, as well as others, are curious to see if there’s indeed a natural synergy between senior living and self-storage facilities, especially as Baby Boomers age and downsize from larger to smaller residential dwellings, a life-style transition that can increase the demand for storage space.

One positive early sign that there may be synergy, says Hagedorm, is that NorthPoint has monitored a surprisingly large number of seniors over the age of 65, specifically women, clicking on the firm’s self-storage ads on Facebook.

Trendspotting

Anne Hawkins, executive vice president at STR, a data analytics company, said self-storage developers traditionally love locating facilities near multifamily buildings in general, under the assumption that residents need extra space to store items that don’t fit in their apartments.

“We’ve certainly seen developers build near multifamily buildings,” she said. “They view multifamily as a demand driver for storage facilities.”

But the jury’s out on whether senior housing and self-storage are a natural fit, she said.

Millennials and downsizing empty-nesters in their 50s and 60s are attractive customers for self-storage companies. But senior citizens may no longer have as many items that need storage, having perhaps already downsized before, and therefore self-storage demand might not be as strong.

“I haven’t heard any conversations about this within the self-storage industry,” she said of marrying up senior living with self-storage.

A Beyond Self Storage facility in Chesterfield, MO.

Growing storage empire

Whether there’s a natural synergy or not, Hagedorm said NorthPoint is confident Farmington Hills site, located next to a major highway, will be successful.

Ed Gardiner, director of planning and community development in Farmington Hills, said the overall NorthPoint project, both the senior living and self-storage facilities, are a good fit for his city. “I assume it will be a success,” he said. “They’re both low-impact facilities in terms of (car traffic).”

For NorthPoint, Farmington Hills is just its latest site for its relatively new Beyond Self Storage brand which it started only three years ago, after it purchased a warehouse property in Kansas and decided, without prior experience in the field, to convert it into a self-storage facility.

“It worked out real well,” said Hagedorn of the Kansas project. And NorthPoint, a multi-faceted commercial developer just outside Kansas City, was off and running in self-storage.

It currently owns 10 Beyond Self Storage facilities, nine of them built from the ground up, and hopes to open 30 more by the end of this year, as part of NorthPoint’s aggressive expansion into the self-storage facility, said Hagedorn. Beyond Self Storage currently operates, or soon plans to operate, in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas, he said.

“We’re a very data-driven company and we’ll build wherever we think it will work,” said Hagedorn.

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Jay Fitzgerald