At 65, Greg Crews has led a successful, multi-decades-long career as a dentist, with a side hustle in the multi-housing real estate market. A few years back, he jumped into self-storage with one foot in RV and boat storage. And now, he’s found his sweet spot after developing a hybrid facility, selected by Toy Storage Nation as the August 2023 Facility of the Month.
Crews developed his new property, Brannon Crossing Self Storage, along with his son-in-law Nate Davenport. The property sits in one of the fastest-growing and affluent towns skirting Lexington, Kent. The scenario makes it perfectly suited for luxury storage, which this partnership supersedes.
Elements qualifying the facility as a Class A facility–perimeter fencing, paved drives, security gate and covered units–were always part of their original plan. But the ultimate design of the site came with a pretty price, most of which was imposed by the city itself.
“The property is unique because it was originally a substation in a residential area,” begins Crews, “but a friend had gotten it zoned for light industrial so we bought it, only to find out there were a lot of residential restrictions.”
Ultimately, to meet jurisdiction requirements, the facility’s design has many elements resembling a high-class Starbucks–buildings lined with bricks and solid concrete blocks, topped with gable roofs and punctuated by residential carriage garage doors with the convenience of automated openers.
The site offers over 15,000 square feet of storage space through units ranging from 10-by-20 to 15-by-50, big enough to accommodate the largest of recreational vehicles. All units are fully insulated, have concrete floors and offer drive-up convenience with ground-floor access.
Additionally, there’s climate control and a fully automated keyless security system featuring Nokē Smart Entry, putting Brannon Crossing in the Class A+ facility category. Crews understands that offering the highest level of security to protect tenants’ belongings in the safest environment with automated payments and 24-hour access fits the clientele of this upper-class community, where people are willing to pay a premium price.
For this father and son-in-law team, the scenario generates higher profits than their much-larger previous property. In addition, because tenants love their high-ticketed RV and boats, Crews and Davenport find they are never stuck with random garbage bags and boxes left behind by delinquent renters.
“Our first facility had 150 units, and when it was full, it grossed $14K a month. This new site has 36 units and grosses $23K a month,” says Crews. “I have higher rents, higher clientele and people who care about their property. And I have much fewer headaches!”
Three months after opening, the site was 40% full, and Crews speculates they’ll be completely full when RV and boat owners look for winter storage. In the meantime, Brannon Crossing continues to attract small-business owners who make up 50% of current tenants.
According to Crews, business operators appreciate saving money by storing supplies and construction equipment at his facility as opposed to renting a storefront, which can be extremely pricey in high-rent cities with equally expensive utility bills. Here, they have heavily insulated, secure storage with heat, electricity and round-the-clock access, all built into one rental payment.
He adds that the Lexington area is still in “massive need” of RV and boat storage, but his clients are happy to pay higher rental rates to ensure their RVs, boats and business equipment are kept safe.
He has no regrets about building Brannon Crossing, but he does have sage advice for anyone entering the RV and boat storage business.
“There were a lot of headaches jumping through all the hurdles to get it approved, which took a year-and-a-half,” says Crews, who vehemently recommends developers do their homework and fully understand the planning and zoning process before buying the property. “I found out the hard way that there is no negotiating” when it comes to restrictions imposed by the city.
In the future, Crews hopes to offer outdoor storage on two undeveloped contiguous acres. Next up: Building two houses and a small farm “with all kinds of little critters” to enjoy with his wife of 42 years, Gina (“the rock of the family”), daughter Suzanna, Nate and their two young children. Once built, the two families will relocate from West Virginia to their new Kentucky home.
As a self-proclaimed person “who can never sit still,” Crews has no intentions of retiring from dentistry. And, although he plans to profit from the sale of Brannon Crossing in the future, he’s reaping the rewards of running the business today.
“I enjoy doing this and it’s really easy to operate because we’re fully automated,” he says. “I love the tenants and I’m very proud of this facility. It’s a crown jewel.”
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