Key takeaways:

  • Charlotte’s self storage market has been growing rapidly over the last three years, with new constructions scheduled to add significant square footage in 2024.
  • The steady increase in supply, coupled with demand normalizing post-pandemic, is leading to more affordable street rates.
  • ZIP codes 28205, 28269, and 28273 are among the areas with the most self storage options for renters, each offering substantial rentable space.
  • Recent zoning laws and city approvals favor new self storage facilities, particularly those that generate low traffic and are well-located.
  • Sales have been moderating, but the average sale price per square foot has increased from 2022 to 2023.

Charlotte’s self-storage market is expanding rapidly in 2024, surpassing the growth seen in the previous two years. Although demand is returning to pre-pandemic levels, new development will add more than 310,000 square feet of storage space to the market by the end of the year, which is roughly 3.5% of Charlotte’s total stock.

Investors’ strategic focus on building new facilities is decreasing rental rates across the city, turning the market into a renter’s storage paradise. The average street rate for a Charlotte storage unit is now $120 per month, down 5% from the previous year and below what people are paying for storage in other popular urban hubs around the country.

Even with the downward trend in rent, Charlotte remains an attractive self-storage investment hub, benefiting from a robust economic landscape and favorable demographic trends that saw the local population grow by 13% over the last decade.

Charlotte emerges as a well-supplied self storage market

There are almost 9 million square feet of self-storage space in the Queen City, with 7.5 million square feet available for rent. This equates to 7.1 square feet per capita, aligning with the national benchmark for storage space and indicating a balanced ratio between supply and demand.

However, certain parts of the city are much better at providing storage solutions and meeting consumer demand. In these well-supplied areas, competition drives innovation and better services, allowing new developments to stand out.

When it comes to rentable storage square footage, ZIP code 28205 shines brightest. It boasts a substantial 788,000 square feet of space serving neighborhoods like North Charlotte, Plaza Midwood, and Windsor Park. However, demand seems to outstrip supply in the area, as rents are still among the highest in the city, currently sitting at $140 per unit.

The ZIP code with the second-most inventory is 28269, which offers 749,030 square feet across Prosperity Church Road, Nevin Community, and Rockwell Park-Hemphill Heights, with prices hovering around $147 per month.

Close behind is ZIP code 28273, which features 745,696 square feet of storage space in areas like Yorkshire, Olde Whitehall, and Griers Fork. The ample storage space available in 28273 has allowed street rates to remain affordable, with units averaging $102 per month.

Record self storage supply set for 2024, surpassing last year's figures

Continuing a path of robust deliveries, Charlotte is experiencing further inventory expansion in 2024. This year, three facilities totaling 310,264 square feet are planned for delivery, including CubeSmart’s recently completed property covering 113,850 square feet. Sunbird Self Storage and Monster Self Storage are the other storage operators currently working on new projects with 2024 delivery dates.

Other cities in North Carolina are also ramping up their self-storage supply. Greensboro, in particular, is set to add 378,420 square feet, boosting its already substantial inventory, which currently stands at 10.7 square feet per capita. Fayetteville is experiencing a similar situation — with 11 square feet of storage space per person, the city’s developers are expected to add another 392,372 square feet of storage space to its existing stock, including three new builds and one conversion. Winston-Salem will increase by 278,000 square feet, while Raleigh is less eventful. Here, only Public Storage has a planned delivery scheduled for 2024, adding more than 29,000 square feet to its current facility at 7505 Fox Road.

Meanwhile, the sales market has seen a slowdown in traded square footage, but the price per square foot increased from 2021 to 2023. In 2023, 78,660 square feet were sold in Charlotte, with an average sale price of $184.33 per square foot. This is an impressive jump from 2022’s average of $136.69, which also marked an increase from 2021’s average of $113.08.

Overall, the city has seen positive absorption of new supply. Given its thriving economic scene, Charlotte’s self storage customer base will likely remain strong enough to support further investment, whether through new sales or new development.

Storage units remain affordable, lower than national average

After riding the pandemic high, Charlotte’s demand for self storage returns to normal levels even while supply continues to grow. It’s no wonder that the average rent of a storage unit has hit $120/month, equating to $1.01 per square foot — a decrease of 5% compared to last year. This puts the Queen City below the national average street rate, which clocks in at $135 per month.

The cheapest storage units are in ZIP code 28227, where the square foot averages $0.68, followed by 28273 and 28210, with a price tag of $0.81 per square foot. On the other end of the spectrum, storage units in 28277 ($1.51/sq. ft.), 28205 ($1.25/sq. ft.), and 28203 ($1.22/sq. ft.) call for the highest rates per square foot.

Expanding multifamily market and population growth support further development in Charlotte

Despite losing some of its luster, interest in self storage is expected to remain strong in the area. Population growth has been robust for the past ten years — approximately 13% — and this trend is set to continue. Moreover, the multifamily market, one of the main drivers of self storage demand, is also anticipated to expand substantially.

Among the many local initiatives supporting the growth of the apartment market, the Unified Development Ordinance aims to enhance the housing market’s overall affordability and sustainability. In addition, the population is expected to grow by 400,000 in the next 20 years, likely boosting the self storage industry.

The area is a must-watch for developers looking to capitalize on new sources of demand. Charlotte has a very high share of remote workers, with roughly 21% of the adult population, or 99,000 people, working from home. This creates a significant need for solutions to help declutter homes and store items to make room for desks and office supplies. Additionally, student storage-related searches in Charlotte are higher than the national average, indicating ample growth potential in areas rich with student housing.

There is a question, however, of whether recent zoning laws allow enough room for new storage facilities. Several industry supporters have been working to create a favorable context for new development and scored a few points with the city. Charlotte City Hall’s approvals favor commercial buildings that are “low traffic generator[s],” “adjacent to an interstate interchange,” and, ideally, “buffered from street view.”

Charlotte’s self storage market is seeing significant supply growth in 2024. Despite already exceeding the national average in self storage per capita, new development is thriving, leading to declining rents. While there is a risk of oversupply, self storage developers can bank on future population growth, favorable zoning laws, and city approvals in well-positioned, low-traffic areas. Presently, market expansion is evident in ZIP codes such as 28205, 28269, and 28273, which show robust inventory and ample rentable space, underscoring the potential for further development. Charlotte stands out in North Carolina's thriving self storage sector, offering promising opportunities for both investors and developers alike.

Methodology

This analysis was conducted by StorageCafe, an online platform that provides storage unit listings nationwide.

To identify the most competitive areas for self storage, we examined the supply in all Charlotte ZIP codes and compared rental rates in these neighborhoods.

Our analysis is based on self storage data from Yardi Matrix. Yardi Matrix is StorageCafe’s sister division and a business development and asset management tool for brokers, sponsors, banks and equity sources underwriting investments in the multifamily, office, industrial and self storage sector.

Data on Charlotte’s population growth and share of remote workers were sourced from the U.S. Census. We also used Google Ads to investigate online interest in self storage.

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