Self Storage Unit Development

The owners of the property at 1890 Pueblo Ave., near Van Winden's Garden Center, plan to build a 375-unit self-storage complex on the 2.34 acre site. An awning business will remain a corner of the property.

Napans with garages packed to the gills, overflowing attics or bulging closets should soon have a new option to store their stuff.

Developer Wayne O’Connell has proposed to build a 375-unit self-storage facility on a two-acre parcel at 1890 Pueblo Ave.

The facility would be next to an awning business and across the street from Van Winden’s Garden Center complex.

On March 9, O’Connell submitted a design review permit to the city for his project, which he said would cost more than $1 million.

O’Connell said a self-storage facility is a good fit for the parcel and for Napa. “There is a shortage of mini storage space in Napa,” he said.

In addition, a shortage of housing has some residents downsizing, which means locals need storage solutions, he said.

To top it off, O’Connell reports that space in existing Napa self-storage facilities can be hard to come by. Some complexes have wait lists, he said.

“This is a good way to provide flexibility for our citizens,” said O’Connell.

The mostly vacant parcel is zoned light industrial, meaning a self-storage facility is an approved use for that space.

Located along Highway 29, the traffic noise wouldn’t be an issue either, he said. “It just seemed like a good fit as where to put it.”

The Pueblo Avenue property is owned by a family trust under the name of Ilene K. Starin of Lotus, California.

The awning business, PJ’s Canvas, will remain where it is, said O’Connell. “We want to them to stay,” he said. “We basically designed the project around” them.

Jay Gardner’s awning business, PJ’s Canvas, has been located at one corner of the Starin parcel for 29 years. A part of the building Gardner’s business now occupies used to be the Starin family home, O’Connell said.

The Starins operated a Culligan water business. The family has owned the parcel since the 1950s, according to Gardner.

Gardner said he had heard rumblings of a development at the site. “I’m thankful that the Starins have got a long- term plan” for the empty part of the lot, he said.

Gardner said he is happy to keep his canvas business where it is. It would be difficult to find similar light industrial workspace elsewhere in Napa, he said.

A self-storage business seems like a compatible neighbor, he said. Weekends are busiest for such facilities, he noted, and PJ’s Canvas is closed on the weekends. “I don’t anticipate there being any conflict.”

O’Connell said he’s entered into a 99-year lease with the Starin family trust to develop the project.

“They wanted to keep it in the family and earn more income. We’re working with them on a joint basis,” he said.

The facility will feature seven separate buildings for a total of 40,000 square feet of self-storage space, the application stated.

There will be an office, but no onsite living facility for management. Units will range in size from 5 feet by feet to 10 feet by 30 feet. All will be ground-floor units.

O’Connell noted that the proposed project is consistent with the general plan designation and zoning requirements. No variances or exceptions are requested.

Piner’s Napa Ambulance service and Piner’s Nursing Home are also located next to the parcel.

Jeremy Piner said he was “a bit concerned” about the project. For decades, Piner’s has been located next to the large swath of open space. With new buildings planned, “it could become a bit claustrophobic,” he said.

Piner wondered if trees along the property border need to be removed. He also expressed concern about drainage issues.

O’Connell said he’s been a Napa resident for more than 25 years. He’s developed numerous other real estate projects in the South Bay, San Francisco and Southern California.

The developer is also working to build a project called called Pietro Place, which features 171 housing units at 725 Central Ave. west of Soscol Avenue. That project was estimated cost of $40 million to $50 million.

O’Connell isn’t the only one hoping to build more self-storage in Napa. In 2016, the city’s planning commission approved a 37,000-square-foot addition to south Napa’s Storage by George.

The expansion features 341 self-storage units. The project was estimated to cost $2.5 million, said business owner George Cohen.

According to Karlo Felix, senior planner in the city’s Planning Division, O’Connell’s application has been routed to reviewing department and agencies for their comments.

“Based on those comments, revisions and a resubmittal may be required,” he said.

According to the Self Storage Association, there are more than 48,500 such facilities in the U.S. The self-storage industry in the United States generated $27.2 billion in revenues in 2014.

The industry has been the fastest growing segment of the commercial real estate industry over the last 40 years and has been considered by Wall Street analysts to be “recession resistant” based on its performance since the economic recession that started in early 2008.

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Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.