Local storage companies are often at capacity
Connie Lee says she gets about 100 calls a day. They're college students looking for places to store their things over the summer at Gateway Storage, which has a little more than 400 units west of Interstate 29 on Gateway Drive in Grand Forks. Bu...
Connie Lee says she gets about 100 calls a day.
They’re college students looking for places to store their things over the summer at Gateway Storage, which has a little more than 400 units west of Interstate 29 on Gateway Drive in Grand Forks. But her response is usually the same: We’re full.
“And they’re kind of finding the same thing any place else they go as well, that things are very full” said Lee, who co-owns Gateway Storage with her husband Don. “And if you wait to the very last minute to try and find something, you’re going to be out of luck.”
The procrastinating college students are one sign of what some see as a lack of available storage units in the Grand Forks area. While college students rent fewer than 30 units from Gateway Storage, a number of Air Force members, college professors and others are using units to store their things, Lee said.
Some have built storage units in nearby towns, only to have them fill up quickly.
“I know there’s a point of saturation, but I don’t know where it is,” said Robert Larimore, who has helped build storage units in Mayville and Larimore, N.D.
Todd Gregoire said he more or less just fell into the storage business. He had been selling trailers to commercial clients when, about seven years ago, he began renting semitrailers to people looking for storage space.
“There was definitely the demand for them,” said Gregoire, the owner of Todd’s Trailer Sales and Rental. He has about 85 trailers ranging in length from 28 feet to 53 feet, which he can drive to the customer’s house or business before loading them up and bringing them to his lot in East Grand Forks for storage.
Gregoire now says he’s as busy as he’s ever been. He said a number of his customers are people moving out of their homes, as well as some commercial contracts for businesses that are running out of room to store their own things.
“The economy around here is really good right now,” Gregoire said. “And yes, there’s a shortage of rental units.”
Some people, he said, are selling their houses quicker than they can build their new home. In that case, they need some more storage space.
Gregoire said he purchased another lot in East Grand Forks to store more trailers, and hopes to build some permanent units there sometime this year.
“I sell one or two trailers a week,” Gregoire said. “But now all my calls lately are (people) wanting to rent.”
Meanwhile, Larimore has helped build several storage units in towns near Grand Forks, like Mayville and Larimore, and is planning to build an extra 36 in Northwood. He’s been surprised by how quickly his storage units fill up once they’re built.
He said a lot of his customers are in the middle of moving, into or out of town, while others just want extra space for their things.
“It’s been unreal,” Larimore said. “I’ve turned down seven or eight people in Larimore already this year.”
Still, Lee said she doesn’t think the lack of available units has gotten worse over the past few years, partly because new apartment units have been adding garages.
“I think a lot of the apartment places are putting in garages so people have the capacity to store their things,” Lee said.
A rezoning proposal to allow storage units on 47th Avenue South were tabled by the Grand Forks Planning and Zoning Commission in April after some residents raised concerns about storage units being “easy targets” for crime, and potential effects on property taxes.
Ryan Brooks, the city of Grand Forks’ senior city planner, said there have been various plans over the years for more storage units, but there haven’t been many built.
“There’s been a lot of discussion,” he said. “I would assume that at some point, we’re going to get some more units some place.”