NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Two more self-storage complexes are on the verge of being built, pending approval from New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington. One would go on 5 vacant acres off Sidbury Road in the unincorporated, while the other would sit on a nearly 2-acre Market Street parcel within the city limits, next to an existing storage facility.
Land-planning expert Cindee Wolf is representing property owners in both rezoning processes, which are necessary to allow for the projects. She argues in the applications “the desire and convenience for having self-storage facilities within a three-mile range of one’s home has become an industry standard.”
The storage trend in the Cape Fear region and across the country is linked to a growing demand for multi-family housing, planning experts explained to Port City Daily last year. Operating costs are also low, making storage a profitable use of real estate.
Owned by Atlantic Coast Holdings LLC, the Sibury Road property — located within the 6300 block, about 2 miles east of the I-40 overpass — is currently zoned for residences. It has been that way since the early 1970s when fewer water and sewer services were available and land planners were promoting low-density homes.
The requested zoning change to the property would permit plans to include 39,000 square feet of indoor self-storage space and about 1 acre of outdoor recreational vehicle and boat storage. Each building would be one story, reaching 25 feet in height.
County planning staff are recommending commissioners give a thumbs-up on the plans. The six planning board members considered the application Mar. 3 and, without any vocal opposition, granted a unanimous stamp of approval. Some conditions were laid out by staff related to landscaping and aesthetics, placement of unit doors away from Sidbury Road, and buffering with an 8-foot high solid screening fence and plantings.
The county’s 2016 Comprehensive Plan, which guides decisions about land development, recommends a mix of higher-density houses and commercial uses in this particular area.
“Sidbury Road is one of the county’s less densely developed corridors with limited commercial services to support nearby future residents,” according to a summary provided to the officials.
Also, the county planners see storage as a low-intensity service to act as a transition between the residences and commercial sectors. The site is adjacent to the incoming Sidbury Farms, a subdivision with 655 proposed houses and 103 townhomes to be built between 2024 and 2034. Buffering and landscaping will separate the business from the under-construction homes to the south and west.
A community meeting was held in December at Wolf’s Design Solutions office on Stokley Drive and no one attended, according to an account of the meeting that was required of the applicant. Five property owners within 500 feet were invited. The county received two comments in support of the plans — one from the president of Huff Family Office, developers of a nearby incoming apartment complex called Sidbury Crossing, and another from D.R. Horton, the developer behind Sidbury Farms.
Ian Flannery, land development manager at D.R. Horton, said the project “will not only benefit our homeowners, but also the future residents and businesses that are sure to be moving there in the coming months and years.”
One Castle Hayne resident opposed the plans, requesting commissioners opt to “preserve some ecological integrity.”
Monday, commissioners will be asked to make the final decision on the rezoning.
Market Street Storage
On Wednesday, Wilmington’s planning commission will come up with its recommendation for another storage facility on 1.9 acres off Market Street. The project, called Market Street Storage, would nestle between Go Store It Self Storage and Pirate Ship Powersports. Wolf confirmed the proposed project is a different business entirely from Go Store It.
The plan calls for a three-story, indoor self-storage facility. Pearson Glenn Stanley is the trustee of the property.
Wilmington’s planning staff is recommending approval, with some conditions, based on the fact it redevelops an underutilized property and would contribute little traffic to the crowded roadway.
The parcel is currently surrounded by commercial zoning on three sides and borders vacant unincorporated land to the north. It has been zoned regional business since 1999 when it was annexed into the city. Mini-warehousing previously was allowed in that district, but the city’s overhaul of the decades-old land development code in December struck storage from the list of permitted uses, according to the application. The proposed rezoning would change the district to commercial services, where storage is allowed.
The proposed facility spans 95,700 square feet and reaches three stories, up to 35 feet in height. There would also be a 900-square-foot office incorporated.
A community meeting was held in February at the offices of Robert High Development, a local company that offers full-service preparation for the self-storage industry, from budget creation to site plans to permitting and construction. According to a recount of the evening, the only attendee was a store owner from across the road who was interested in the proposal. All property owners within 300 feet were invited.
Wilmington’s planning commission meeting Wednesday starts at 6 p.m. in City Hall; it is also streamed live and uploaded thereafter here. New Hanover County commissioners meet Monday at 4 p.m. in the courthouse; catch the live stream and recording here.
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