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Investment deal could boost local self-storage firm

John Gilliland just might be the largest owner of self-storage units based in Central Pennsylvania, and he is on the verge of taking his company to new heights.

The president and CEO of Manchester Township-based Investment Real Estate LLC, which does business as Moove In Self Storage, said he’s in the midst of taking on a private equity partner that could help him buy up to $200 million worth of self-storage storage properties in the Mid-Atlantic over the next two years.

“I’ve had private equity chasing me for years,” he said. “I have pushed away. Now I want to get much bigger.”

The storage industry has continued to grow, which has sparked property growth nationally and even attracted smaller niche players locally.

Many people continue to have a hard time throwing stuff away, Gilliland said, noting that about 10 percent of U.S. households now rent self-storage units.

Strong demand has turned self-storage units into good investments for private equity firms and publicly traded real estate investment trusts, or REITs. 

Investors are frequently looking to buy existing storage facilities from private developers, Gilliland said. However, investors mostly focus on the big cities where occupancy and rental rates are stronger.  

But there is interest in smaller markets, Gilliland said.

His unnamed equity partner would share in the profits but IRE would continue to manage the portfolio of properties, Gilliland said.

He already has multiple offers out to buy new sites, including properties in Central Pennsylvania.

IRE currently owns about 6,800 storage units in three states, including at several facilities in Lancaster and York counties.

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