Denver wants to ban storage units near transit hubs

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DENVER -- Self-storage units have multiplied across the city and are drawing increased scrutiny from Denver leaders who say the space could be used for something more productive.

"Very often these places look like boxes that hold boxes," Denver city councilwoman Mary Beth Susman said. "It's not a very good use of our land."

Now the city is proposing a ban on new construction of self-storage facilities and drive-thru businesses within a quarter mile of light rail stations. A proposal both Susman and councilwoman Kendra Black support.

"It would be nice to think about the way we use our land, and make them into more people-oriented places than just boxes that hold boxes," Susman said.

"Storage facilities, the nature of them is there are no people there," councilwoman Black said. "The right kind of activity around the station. I think will increase transit use, which will ultimately improve our traffic situation and really the quality of life." 

Black represents Southeast Denver, a part of the city with no shortage of self-storage.

She points to the Colorado rail station near I-25 and Evans as an example of what the city wants to prevent at future transit hubs. There, a storage facility sits right next to the train platform and a handful of other storage buildings line the block. 

"I want to make sure we don't get more storage facilities and drive-thru restaurants around the light rail stations," Black said.

Jack Babbitt really needs a bigger office, instead he has a storage unit.

"We don't have garage space or anything at our office," he said.

Babbitt said he isn't against storage units further away from transit, but worries about his pocket book.

"When the price goes up and there's less of them. The cost of renting one is probably going to go up too," he explained.

Another concern? What about all the new people moving to Colorado. Where will all their stuff go?

"You're going to need more of them, than less with all the people coming from other states," Babbitt said.

The next step for these boxes that hold boxes and the future of new storage facilities is Denver will be up to city council and the public decide.

If the new restrictions make it out of the planning committee, city council will hold a public hearing with the ban taking effect as early as November.

"We don't want to get rid of it all together, but maybe put it in places where we're not looking for activation," said Susman.

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