Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Feb. 24, 2021

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Vancouver-based storage chain expands into Washougal

Occupancy, unpaid rent have gone up slightly in pandemic

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor

A Vancouver-based storage facility chain has expanded into a Washougal location, formerly a Boise Cascade storage facility, filling in demand for more storage units during the pandemic.

Iron Gate Storage opened its eighth Clark County location at 321 C St. It’s open under a temporary permit, but founder and co-owner Glen Aronson said he expects a permanent permit in a few weeks. The renovated property fixed an “eyesore” from the buildings that had fallen into disrepair, he said.

Occupancy for Iron Gate Storage has gone up about 4 to 5 percent during the pandemic, Aronson said, but unpaid rent has also increased about 5 to 6 percent.

“I’m not sure why it’s gone up,” he said. “I guess it would be that people have more time to clean houses and organize. There’s a lot of remodeling and construction. Some businesses are shrinking and looking for places to store things.”

Self-storage units and mini-warehouses saw a spike in business in 2017, but gross revenue for all Clark County storage businesses combined has since fallen by about half, to about $344,000 a year, according to the Washington State Department of Revenue.

Iron Gate Storage has had a foothold in the industry since 1988 and continues to expand, Aronson said. The business has one location in Beaverton, Ore., and it may grow more in Oregon.

“We would like to expand more,” he said. “Clark County is tough because it’s pretty saturated. Maybe a few more in Portland.”

Aronson and co-owner Kim Vine bought the property in early 2017 after it had fallen into a state of disrepair, unused and an eyesore to passersby for years.

The new Iron Gate Storage facility converted three of the Boise Cascade paper storage buildings on the property into storage, including RV and boat storage, which is in high demand. A third building on the property was demolished and a new building constructed in its place.

“We were very lucky to find the property,” said Aronson. “The city of Washougal was happy. The property was an eyesore. Weeds were growing, the unsightly buildings were rusting and they needed painting and work.”

Vine said she sees a big demand for indoor RV and boat storage, which reflects a hot RV market.

“There’s a scarcity in Clark County for RV and boat storage,” Vine said. “That one piece has been a focal point for us. We wanted to be practical. Our intent is to build out more.”

Future development of the roughly 5-acre Iron Gate Storage property in Washougal includes mechanical and fiberglass repair service companies. Vine said she is looking for a tenant to lease property on the land for those services.

Part of the renovation of the property also included sprucing up the Jubitz gasoline pump station, a tenant on the property.

COVID-19 also slowed down construction and renovation of the property, Vine said, but she is happy to get it opened.

“We went through six weeks of being shut down,” she said. “Construction was down for four to five weeks in April. We’re proud to say we persevered through that.”