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A Case for Commercial at DC’s Self-Storage Facilities

by Nena Perry-Brown

A self-storage facility on New York Avenue NE. Click to enlarge.

A proposed zoning text amendment would require new self-service storage facilities in DC's PDR (production, distribution, and repair) zones to activate the ground floor.

The Office of Planning has filed the amendment with the Zoning Commission, affirming self-service storage as a by-right use in PDR zones while seeking to mandate that self-service storage facilities include a ground-floor use that encourages foot traffic. The preferred uses include retail, office, medical, arts, pet care or dining establishments, or an apartment for a manager or caretaker to live on the premises.

To further activate the ground floor, the above uses would have to occupy at least half of the ground-floor square footage and 100% of the street frontage. 

"Although self-service storage facilities are a component of the industrial landscape and a desired use by many, as evidenced by their popularity for both residents and business owners in the District, the use results in a low-intensive utilization of the land, neither generating significant employment nor activating the street with other more active uses, such as manufacturing, retail commercial, service-commercial or office space, as anticipated by the zone," the application explains. 

PDR zones tend to be more prevalent in the Northeast and Southeast quadrants of the city. Requiring an activated ground floor could make storage facilities more palatable in neighborhoods where PDR and residential uses coincide, such as in this recent case where a lot in Fairlawn was rezoned from PDR over resident concerns about a storage facility changing the residential character of their neighborhood.

The Zoning Commission is expected to consider the application next week.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/a-case-for-commercial-at-self-storage-facilities/16360

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