Continuing its trend of converting former retail stores into self-storage and moving facilities, U-Haul International Inc. is snapping up 13 Kmart and Sears locations for $62 million.

The purchase by U-Haul’s real estate arm, AMERCO Real Estate Co., of the 13 stores comes as downtrodden retailer Sears Holdings Corp. is closing scores of locations and selling vacant properties. Sears plans to sell more than 500 Sears and Kmart locations overall.

This Sears property in Fairbanks, AK is one of 13 locations it plans to sell to U-Haul. The other 12 locations are Kmart stores.

According to court documents filed in Sears Holdings’ federal bankruptcy case, the stores being purchased by Phoenix, AZ-based U-Haul are:

  • 3115 Airport Way, Fairbanks, AK (Sears)
  • 308 Dix Ave., Queensbury, NY (Kmart)
  • 2875 Santa Maria Way, Santa Maria, CA (Kmart)
  • 4110 E. Sprague Ave., Spokane, WA (Kmart)
  • 5909 E. State St., Rockford, IL (Kmart)
  • 20777 Bear Valley Road, Apple Valley, CA (Kmart)
  • 200 Irwin Ave., Fort Walton Beach, FL (Kmart)
  • 1805 E. Stone Drive, Kingsport, TN (Kmart)
  • 3250 Clear Lake Road, Springfield, IL (Kmart)
  • 996 W. View Park Drive, Pittsburgh, PA (Kmart)
  • 1309 N. High St., Fort Atkinson, WI (Kmart)
  • 17850 Frazho Road, Roseville, MI (Kmart)
  • 1705 S. Main St., Roswell, NM (Kmart)

The square footage of the stores was not available.

There’s no word yet on U-Haul’s timetable for transforming the 13 properties into storage and moving facilities. Shuttered department stores have recently become a target for various storage developers.

From “big box” to storage

This year alone, U-Haul has revealed plans to convert nine vacant Kmart stores.

“Our adaptive reuse of existing buildings reduces the amount of energy and resources required for new-building materials and helps cities reduce their unwanted inventory of unused buildings,” U-Haul said in an October 2018 news release about a conversion project in Muskogee, OK.

In the release, U-Haul said that by repurposing a vacant 89,355-square-foot Kmart in Muskogee rather than building a facility from the ground up, it’s preventing the use of 765 tons of metal, avoiding the pouring of 6,045 tons of concrete, keeping 6,888 tons of building and demolition debris out of landfills, and stopping more than 5.5 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere.

During the third-quarter earnings call for AMERCO, U-Haul’s parent company, Chairman, President and CEO Joe Schoen said the long-term prospects for self-storage “remain good” and the sector continues to represent “a very valid economic response to consumer wants and needs.”

“In self-storage, I continue to believe that a still-increasing number of new entrants into this market will result in some unpleasantness in some specific markets in the not-too-distant future,” Schoen said. “I’m not clairvoyant. I can’t tell you for a fact where, but all the signs are there.”

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