Australian businessmen betting on success of innovative storage model in western Travis County

Byron Smith, left, and Tim Manson are planning to break ground on their new storage business called XSpace in late January. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Byron Smith, left, and Tim Manson are planning to break ground on their new storage business called XSpace in late January. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)

Byron Smith, left, and Tim Manson are planning to break ground on their new storage business called XSpace in late January. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)

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Byron Smith, left, and Tim Manson are planning to break ground on their new storage business called XSpace in late January. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Australian businessmen Tim Manson and Byron Smith are inching toward a January groundbreaking for their new multiuse, multistory commercial condominium project directly across the street from Mansfield Dam in Northwest Austin.

A primary difference between their model and more traditional storage models, they said, is the fact that their units are for sale and not for rent. But there are other differences.

“Self-storage is something that was always meant for short-term solutions,” Manson said. “We’re not that.”

Clients can use their storage units for myriad purposes, Smith said, from conducting business and having a satellite office to maintaining a spare space for recreation outside of the home.

Manson and Smith, who call their company XSpace Group, purchased 5.43 acres at 4229 RM 620, in Austin’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, in January, and an early 2020 groundbreaking appears probable following a little bit more work with the city of Austin, they said.

“The last piece of this goes before the environmental board in January, and as soon as that’s done ... we’d be looking at starting construction within a few weeks after that,” Manson said, adding final approvals should go back to the city of Austin following approval from the environmental board in mid-January. “So now, we’re looking at a late January groundbreaking.

Manson said so far, 21 units out of 30 earmarked for Phase One of the project are completed, and there will be 106 units available when the project is complete.

Lakeway resident Bruce Furst said he happened to meet Manson on a plane headed to Austin. They got to talking, and after learning about XSpace through the course of the conversation, Furst said he thought it was a great idea; he has already committed to purchasing one basic unit. He said he has also not ruled out the possibility of purchasing another unit in the future.

“For me, this is a solution to a problem with an opportunity attached,” Furst said in an email. “I need additional storage space for items that will not fit in our garage. I do not want to make monthly payments and get nothing in return.”

Furst added he also likes the idea of having an owner’s lounge—which will be a feature of the XSpace location once it is complete—where he can informally meet business associates.

Smith and Manson said they are already in talks to bring 10 more locations of the business to the Austin and Houston areas, including near Barton Creek and The Domain in Northwest Austin.

They said they could not divulge any more information than that as regards more locations in the Austin area, but they said they are optimistic about ongoing talks for the additional storage establishments.

Gayle Berkbigler, a commercial realtor for St. Croix Realty Advisors, said she is familiar with the storage model Manson and Smith are working on bringing to Austin.

“I think it’s up-and-coming,” Berkbigler said. “I had a client wanting to build something like that. It didn’t end up happening, but we did some research on it, and it is really popular in Dallas. It hasn’t really taken off here so much yet, but I think it’s a new idea.”
By Brian Rash
Brian has been a reporter and editor since 2012. He wrote about the music scene in Dallas-Fort Worth before becoming managing editor for the Graham Leader in Graham, Texas, in 2013. He relocated to Austin, Texas, in 2015 to work for Gatehouse Media's large design hub. He became the editor for the Lake Travis-Westlake publication of Community Impact in August 2018.


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