by Jeffrey Hage
A homegrown Monticello man is expanding his business enterprises beyond the Monticello City Limits.
Keith Burnham, owner of Monticello-based Affordable Storage is growing his business to St. Michael.
As a matter of fact, Afforable Storage’s new St. Michael location will be larger than the Monticello operation and its 17 buildings on six acres on Innsbrook Drive.
“Plans call for 22 buildings on 9.66 acres,” Burnham said.
The newest Affordable Storage location is on the south side of St. Michael at the intersection of LaBeaux Avenue (Wright County Road 19) and 30th Street.
“It’s a beautiful site,” Burnham said.
Affordable Storage will be built in five phases over the next five years Burnham said. When finished, there will be 700 rental units and an onsite rental office, he said.
Making a move into St. Michael didn’t come easy for Burnham, however.
It was nearly a yearlong process that included what Burnham said was one of the most crushing blows of his business career.
A year ago, Burnham went before the St. Michael Planning Commission and City Council with a business plan for a storage rental facility on land at the intersection of Naber Ave. and Highway 241.
Burnham moved forward with a concept plan at the end of 2019.
“The planning commission liked the concept, but not the location,” Burnham said. The plan also had council support.
Burnham had a land survey done. A plat was developed. An architect drew up building plans.
But the land needed to be rezoned from agricultural to industrial.
At a Feb. 5 meeting of the planning commission, the plan was unanimously opposed.
At the following city council meeting, the proposal was denied on a 4-1 vote, in part, because future land development plans earmarked the property for a business or office park development. Mayor Kevin Kasel was the only one to vote in favor of the project.
Burnham didn’t let the denial stop him from expanding into St. Michael.
As Burnham says, “I scrambled to find a new site.”
That new site is part of 64 acres once owned by Isabelle Barthel.
In April, the St. Michael City Council approved a comprehensive plan amendment to allow industrial uses on the site at LaBeaux Avenue and 30th Street.
On August 10, the Council gave its approval to the Affordable Storage preliminary plat, final plat and site plan with a unanimous vote.
“Its been a wild ride,” Burnham said.
Burnham said he first went into business in the 1980s pushing a mower door to door, and trying to cut grass for $5 per lawn. He had a lemonade stands, and wheeled and dealed in baseball cards and bike parts. Later, he became a local tree trimmer, garden center operator, and landscape mulch manufacturer.
“I have always had a passion for real estate, investing in my first properties at 20 years old, and the storage business has allowed me that opportunity to do something that I’m passionate about,” Burnham said.
Now Keith Burnham will be able to continue that passion in St. Michael with the opening of his second Affordable Storage location.
Reach Jeff Hage at firstname.lastname@example.org