NYC is trying to create restrictions on self-storage--but where are we supposed to put all our stuff?

By Alanna Schubach  | April 17, 2017 - 11:59AM

As residents of the most densely populated city in the country, most of New Yorkers, except for all but the wealthiest, likely wish for more space. Despite all our space-saving efforts, it seems that our tiny apartments remain insufficient: Self-storage facilities are profilerating throughout the boroughs, as locals clamor for somewhere to stash all their stuff. 

There are currently 240 self-storage facilities in the city, 60 of which opened in the last 10 years. But according to a New York Times article, critics say there are consequences to all this storage thirst. They argue that these facilities occupy land that could be better used for industry, and consequently diminish job opportunities and drive up the price of real estate by making it more scarce. 

Other cities have made efforts to limit how much new storage can be built. In Charleston, for instance, developers cannot put self-storage on sites that could be used for multi-tenant buildings, and Miami instituted a rule that there must be a 2,500-foot distance between facilities. NYC is now attempting to follow suit, with a proposal that would require a lengthy review process before approving the construction of storage units in industrial areas. 

But self-storage developers say demand is high in NYC, and curtailing their construction will force them to raise prices. (As it is, these spaces aren't cheap: a rundown of options reveals that prices can range from $22.50 per month for a locker to $249 per month for a 10-foot-by-10-foot unit.) 

NYC apartments certainly aren't getting any roomier—if anything, they're getting smaller, with micro-unit developments like Carmel Place on the rise—and even minimalists can end up feeling hemmed in by their apartments' space limitations. But if the city is now curbing the construction of in-demand storage options, it begs the question: Where are we supposed to put our stuff? 

Last year, Marie Kondo's dramatic approach to downsizing was in vogue, but the process of going through each of your items, one by one, and trying to figure out whether they bring you joy certainly isn't for everyone. Plus, Kondo-ing has been criticized as tone-deaf to the realities of working-class and low-income Americans, who can't afford to easily replace their jettisoned items, should they need to. (And for parents, good luck getting your kids to agree to culling their toys.)

So what can you do with the items you don't need on a daily basis but can't bear to part with? There are innovative ways to make the most of the space you do have at home. When Brick visited Carmel Place, for instance, we learned some space-saving tricks like thinking vertically and using overhead space for storage. And design blogger Jacqueline Clair filled us in on making the most of tiny apartments with furniture that does double duty, like a coffee table with a top that lifts for storage inside.

And if outside storage is a must, you could opt for a service like Box Butler, which drops off boxes at your place and then picks them up after you pack them. Your stuff will be stored at a space in New Jersey, so at the very least, you won't have to feel guilty about helping to take away valuable land from the city. 


Alanna Schubach

Contributing writer

Contributing editor Alanna Schubach has over a decade of experience as a New York City-based freelance journalist.

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