Is there space for another mini storage biz in the Santa Fe neighborhood?

Is there space for another mini storage biz in the Sante Fe neighborhood?
This is the existing site at 205 Cutting Blvd, where a developer was proposing to build an over 82,000-square foot mini storage project that would include space for artist work studios and retail.

There are six self-storage facilities located in and near the Santa Fe neighborhood. While some say one more is too many, others cite a need for additional mini storage given ongoing housing projects that are adding hundreds of new units to the area.

The demand for storage has steadily increased over the last five years, causing prices for similar units to double, according to representatives of Baranof Holdings, a Texas-based developer that is proposing to construct an over 82,000-square foot mini storage project at 205 Cutting Blvd. (at S. 2nd Street) that includes space for artist work studios and retail.

But some in the community opposing the project say the Santa Fe neighborhood has too many self-storage businesses and needs more diverse merchants. Among the project opponents are the Sante Fe Neighborhood Council (SFNC) as well as the owner and supporters of the nearby Bridge Storage and ArtSpace at 23 Maine Ave., which could face competition by the new project.

Baranof’s proposal, which has been updated after public comment, features 4,870 square feet of artist work studio space on the first floor, another 900 feet for leasing/administrative offices, and potentially 5,000 square feet dedicated to community-accessible space, such as a bike shop and café run by local entrepreneurs.

Project rendering for 205 Cutting Blvd. (Photo credit: Barnof Holdings)

Currently, the light-industrial site harbors a 7,788 square-foot masonry building used by Whale Point Marine & Hardware. The owner of Whale Point is in contract to purchase 145 Tewskbury in order to move the hardware store back to Point Richmond where it was several years ago.

The SFNC, in which Daryl Henline, a director at Bridge Storage and ArtSpace, is a member, has called for the Planning Commission to reject Baranof’s proposal. The commission is set to review the project at its meeting Thursday.

“The SFNC wants more uplifting projects coming into our community that will attract healthy living experiences, i.e. grocery stores; live work lofts; coffee shops etc.,” Vernon Whitmore, president of SFNC, stated in a letter to city officials. “These storage businesses offer no real tax base or local hiring opportunities for residents within the Sante Fe Neighborhood Council.”

The developer’s representatives counter that 205 Cutting Blvd. is located across from a Superfund site, where contaminants in soil and ground water prohibit the use for housing or high-use grocery stores.

“The project takes a contaminated land site and turns it into a beautiful place along the Cutting Blvd. industrial corridor,” according to a letter in support from Lynson Beaulieu, a broker associate for Feagley Realtors who is the selling agent on the Whale Point property. 

To sweeten the pot, Baranof recently offered an annual $5,000 Community Benefits grant that would be administered by the SFNC in order to get the project approved.

Nolan Borden, partner at Baranof Holdings, said the seven-member firm aims to be in the community in the longterm.

“We are a lean company of seven individuals and do not have the capacity to pursue projects that we do not believe in,” Borden said. “We have been working on this project for the last 18 months because we believe in Richmond.”