‘Luxury’ storage suites coming to Milton-Freewater’s south hill | Business

MILTON-FREEWATER — Land here that has long been zoned for business use is going to see the first development of such, according to the man working to make it happen.

In its regular meeting on Monday, Feb. 7, the Milton-Freewater Planning Commission is expected to complete an agreement approved by City Council in November with Legacy Land Development LLC to use just over 7 acres of land on the city’s south hill for the home of a relatively new personal storage concept.

At 6:45 pm study session will be followed by the commission meeting, which has time for public comment; both will be open to virtual or phone attendance only.

As one of directors of the Milton-Freewater-based development company and a fifth-generation resident of the city, Barry Weis is clearly pumped about what’s planned for the spot.

There are several franchises around the country of what Weis is working toward, falling under the label of “luxury storage.”

Common monitors include storage condominiums and storage suites.

“GarageTown USA,” headquartered in Coeur d’Alene, was one of the first companies to the fancy storage starting line.

Under that company’s model, the high-end storage units are bought and sold like homes, usually through mortgage-style payments, and touted as investments. Many units go on the market with amenities such as internet and cable connections installed. Each has its own climate control.

Most such developments have a board of directors and neighborhood covenants.

Experts say the concept has remained recession proof and that owners don’t shy away from buying units miles from their home.

Here, the project will be called “All American Garage,” and will be unlike anything currently available in the Walla Walla Valley, Weis said.

The plat slated for his project is part of a 17.29-acre business-use site already owned by Legacy Land Development, just up the hill from the former Sykes call center.

The land is bordered by more than 800 feet of Highway 11 on the west, Key Boulevard to the east and the city’s newest subdivision, The Gateway, to the south.

Legacy Land Development also owns that large housing parcel, where once grew wheat and the green peas for which Milton-Freewater became famous.

Plans made public in 2019 call for more than 70 homes on the site initially.

That housing work is proceeding, Weis said Wednesday, Feb. 2, citing supply chain shortages and challenging infrastructure work for some setbacks in timing. Currently 12 homes in The Gateway are built or under construction.

And, as in many modern subdivisions, storing vehicles and recreational vehicles outside in yards or on the street permanently is restricted, he said.

The proposed storage project will feature 81 units in 10 buildings that are purchased singularly while the land underneath them is owned by the company. Owners will pay their own utilities and property taxes, Weis said.

Several of the local All American Garage details, including pricing structure and condo association fees, are still being worked out, he said.

He does know the units will be 16 to 20 feet high, with enough room for owners to put in a second story or install a lift for under-the-car work. The project site plan shows units running 24 feet wide and up to 60 feet deep.

The All American Garage franchise has several locations targeted for development, including in Hayden, Idaho; Cle Elum, Washington; and Florida, with more locations across the country in mind, said creator and principal engineer Steven Syrcle.

According to trade and news publications, luxury storage appeals to specific markets, such as wine enthusiasts who need storage for their inventory and the classic car buff wanting space for restoration work.

Some buyers seek a spot to be surrounded by their favorite, albeit stored, possessions.

There are the owners of boats, ATVs and snowmobiles who seek larger spaces to protect their investments. Others want luxury RV storage, Weis said, predicting there will be visitors to the Valley who elect to keep a motor home or limousine tucked away for when they come to town.

For others, such a unit can become the place to fly the fan flag high. On tours of similar projects, Weis has witnessed “mausoleums” to sports teams like the Green Bay Packers, he said.

Industry writers say storage condos are popular to use as hang out space, to store art and a place for working out. Many existing developments have RV sewer dumps on the grounds, unit water hookups and floor drains, ceiling fans and sprinkler systems. All secured by gated access.

Pricing for units varies widely around the country, from $500,000 for the fanciest in Florida to units starting at $150,000 for 750-square feet in the Spokane area.

Like many such developments, All American Garage in Milton-Freewater will have extra frosting on the cake. Great attention will be paid to details such as exterior lighting, landscaping and building facades, so that the site is attractive to owners and passersby alike, Weis said.

But the cherry on top, he and Syrcle believe, is the project’s clubhouse, a building of about 30 feet by 40 feet that will be available for use by every unit owner. Families can host birthday parties, barbecues and game nights at the clubhouse; people can even have business meetings there.

Inside the clubhouse will be seating, a kitchen and full bathrooms with shower facilities. Outside will feature a covered porch and a barbecue bar, Syrcle said.

Construction is anticipated to begin this spring after the ground dries out, and purchase reservations will be accepted beginning in summer.

While he understands the storage condos will change the view of the southern approach into Milton-Freewater, that parcel was already zoned for business use, he pointed out.

“It was always going to be something, be it x, y or z. Part of the intention was to expand city limits.”

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