Germantown prohibits construction of self-storage businesses, so Gill Properties is literally doing the next best thing for a future Storage Towne of America location.

The change in asphalt as well as the city limits sign mark where Memphis and Germantown meet on Hacks Cross. Germantown doesn’t allow new self-storage businesses, so Gill Properties is putting one just south of the city (behind the orange fencing).

The developer this week filed for a permit to build Storage Towne of America-Germantown on 10 acres that abut Germantown’s southern city limits.

The company will spend $6.1 million to build about a dozen buildings totaling 130,000 square feet at 3131 Hacks Cross Road.

“For years, everybody in the self-storage business has tried to be in Germantown,” Gill Properties founder Ray Gill said. But Germantown officials “made it clear it will never be a permitted use,” he said.

The vacant acreage he bought in 2014 is bordered by Players Club Parkway to the south in Memphis and Circle Gate Drive to the north and inside Germantown.

A year later, Gill got the Memphis property rezoned for self-storage.

The site is nearly ideal for self-storage for more reasons than that it taps into a restrictive Germantown market.

“We think there’s enough demand in Southwind,” he said, referring to the mixed-used district that is anchored by the TPC Southwind golf club.

“And there are the 1,700 apartments that (developer) Michael Lightman built at Fieldstone (Apartments).

“And Hacks Cross is a major entrance into Germantown,” Gill said.

Grinder Taber Grinder will build the storage facilities for Gill Properties.

In some ways, the go-go years for self-storage development have passed, he acknowledged, adding that the industry has overbuilt.

“But a self-storage location with the right characteristics can still succeed,” he said.

In recent years a number of cities across the U.S. have restricted development of self-storage businesses.

Reasons for cracking down might include the buildings’ appearance or the view that self-storage is often not the highest and best use for land. Self-storage businesses don’t activate sidewalks with pedestrians and they directly create jobs for relatively few people.

When Gill Properties entered the self-storage business two decades ago the business was characterized by “orange doors and chain-link” fences and, in Gill’s opinion, was too closely tied to industrial uses.

He considers self-storage more of a retail service, and Gill Properties built facilities with higher quality finishes such as masonry facades.

“We’ll have 40% or so of our units climate-controlled, they’ll be in beautiful settings, clean, no deferred maintenance,” Gill said.

The future Storage Towne-Germantown buildings will look similar to the Collierville facility that Gill Properties built and sold on Winchester near Houston Levee.

The future Storage Towne-Germantown buildings will look similar to the Collierville facility that Gill Properties built and sold on Winchester near Houston Levee. (Courtesy: Gill Properties)
“And we put them in high-visibility, retail locations like this one” on Hack Cross Road, he said.

Since 1999, Gill Properties has owned five Storage Towne locations, and sold four of them. It still operates one at 7845 E. Shelby Drive.

In addition to its plans to build at 3131 Hack Cross, Gill Properties eventually plans to build a 200,000-square-foot Storage Towne where Colonial Apartments now stands on Poplar Avenue at Reddoch Street in East Memphis.

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And it is actively planning the 40,000-square-foot Phase 4 of its mixed-use TraVure development at 6584 Poplar Ave. in Germantown.