Streamlining Development

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Virtual Cost Savings, Productivity, And Projections  

By David Meinecke, Vice President of Jordan Architects

As we continue to navigate through this tumultuous time, we continue to see the ripple effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite varying levels of concern throughout the nation, there is no doubt that this will impact the way we do business moving forward. As some businesses invite their employees back with an abundance of precautions, many remain working remotely.

Pushing through the development process for a self-storage facility can present obstacles dealing with jurisdictions and various government entities. Many government entities were slow to adapt to the forced virtual environment, thus delaying response times and setting some projects back months. We have now experienced several months of working in a virtual environment and we appear to be ironing out the kinks despite a rough first month of technical hiccups. We are now able to attend public hearings, project meetings, and site walks virtually, which has obviously cutdown on travel time and out-of-office replies. We have experienced some improvements in the discretionary review process, as more and more jurisdictions are accepting electronic submittals instead of the multiple hard copies, thus saving developers thousands of dollars.

The public hearing process has also been streamlined, with meetings taking place typically through Zoom or other online formats. There are fewer interruptions and distractions, with agendas being closely adhered to as attendees participate from home. Continuing these hearings in an online format will further save on costs incurred by the development team. While the costs of doing business with jurisdictions may have improved, productivity has been a mixed bag. The verdict is still out for many on productivity and just how this pandemic is affecting their bottom lines. In the private sector, if you did not have virtual workplaces set up before the pandemic, chances are you are experiencing a dip in productivity. Technology has made it easier than ever to work remotely, however the impacts would have been vastly more intense had this happened even 10 years ago.

Fortunately, it has been my experience that our industry has been less affected than others due in part to a couple of factors. One, the pause in the economy has thinned out the development pipeline and relieved the future burden on some markets. This helps prolong the latest boom in storage and avoid prolonged lease-up times for new facilities. Secondly, there has been a significant uptick in RV sales; they were up 10 percent this June in comparison to June 2019, according to the RV Industry Association. Families are looking for ways to get out of the house and RVs have become an increasingly common solution. This has resulted in an increased demand for RV storage facilities.

In times like these, it’s important to focus our attention to positive things and being thankful for what we have. We can all appreciate that we are a part of an industry that has stayed the course through unprecedented times. While numerous industries are suffering, storage has continued to move forward one measured step at a time.

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