June 21, 2010 4:29 PM
Four Dallas-area residents, tired of looking at an empty Walmart building that has stood empty for six years, have decided to buy Walmart’s old retail building and convert it into a self storage facility. The Walmart will be turned into a Just Store It. The interior demolition work is already finished, and work on the interior renovations began today. The development is the brainchild of developer Brad Tidwell of Dallas, who looked at the old Walmart building and saw a conversion deal.
“Every time I see a new idea,” Tidwell explained in the Sunday Longview News-Journal, “my first thought is, ‘will this work in Longview?’”
Tidwell convinced three other local residents to invest in the former Walmart, which is located at the Park Place Shopping Center in Longview. The final partnership for the deal consisted of Tidwell and Ray McKown of Dallas, Terry Cook of Longview, and Ronnie Walker of Beaumont. Dana Deason, of the Deason Financial Group (a Longview finance company) was a consultant for the project. Tidwell’s mother, Judy Tidwell, will become the manager for the new facility.
The Walmart is particularly well suited to self storage because the building is already climate-controlled, and includes a loading and unloading area on one side of the building. Tidwell elaborated on his vision for the new facility in Sunday’s Longview News-Journal article.
“Fortunately for us,” he said, “our building is a former Walmart, which means we have five spaces on the side of the building that allow for loading and unloading out of the weather....We will also have covered drop off in the front of the building and loading docks at the rear of the building for semi truck loading and unloading.”
Former retail buildings, Tidwell went on, represent an ideal opportunity to do a self storage conversion. “The self storage industry has been a strong investment choice for years,” he said, “and has proven to be very resilient in the recession....In the metro areas you will find that most people prefer 100 percent climate-controlled space, but unfortunately the rents are usually much higher, therefore 100 percent climate-controlled facilities have not been feasible in smaller markets.”
Because many retailers have gone out of business during the recession, Tidwell continued, developers find themselves with a prime opportunity -- a chance to take a big empty building that is already equipped with air conditioning, and convert it. “With the recent downturn in retail industry,” he noted in the News-Journal, “investors have scrambled to find a way to convert large vacant retail buildings into a viable project. Converting an existing large retail building to a self-storage facility allows you to use the existing building, sprinkler system, air conditioning, lighting and provide a first-class storage facility. If the building can be purchased at the right price, the total project cost can be done for a fraction of a new climate-controlled project.”
This type of conversion is common in the self storage industry. According to Deason, “It’s taking the existing walls and bringing a new use to the facility, and it’s becoming quite common throughout the Metroplex....It’s starting to take hold in East Texas.” He noted that in Texarkana, a former lumber yard was recently converted to a self storage facility.
This is not Tidwell’s first project. He is also involved in Hallsville’s Pine Place Apartments and in several projects in Diana. As a banker, he has financed more than $100 million in real estate deals. The Just Store It deal amounted to about $2 million. Local company Walter Northcutt and Beer Wells Real Estate Services handled the purchase.
Ferguson, Jo Lee. “Ex-Walmart to get second life as storage facility.” Longview News-Journal. June 20, 2010.
“Longview, Texas, Walmart gets converted to self storage.” Inside Self-Storage. June 21, 2010.