Grand Opening: U-Haul Offers 800 Self-Storage Rooms in Fort Walton Beach

Ribbon-cutting ceremony, free BBQ lunch part of public event Jan. 11 at 200 Irwin Ave.

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 10, 2023) — U-Haul® and the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce are hosting a grand-opening event from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. on Jan. 11 to unveil the city’s newest retail and indoor self-storage facility at U-Haul Moving & Storage of the Emerald Coast at 200 Irwin Ave.

Those in attendance can enjoy a free BBQ lunch, U-Haul giveaways and raffles, a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility and much more. Lunch will be served on a first-come basis.

Renovations to the 138,000-square-foot facility include nearly 800 indoor self-storage units with high-tech security features and climate-control options. Storage customers can take advantage of extended-hours access, drive-in load/unload areas; gated and covered boat and RV storage; ADA-accessible units; free use of utility carts; U-Box® portable storage containers; U-Haul Truck Share 24/7®; propane; hitch accessories and professional hitch installation; and more.

Years of work went into refurbishing and modernizing the property that formerly housed a J.M. Fields® discount department store and Kmart® store. U-Haul acquired the property in 2019.

“This building was originally constructed in 1971, and we are so eager to show the Fort Walton Beach community the investment we have made in repurposing it,” said Chad Rome, U-Haul Company of South Alabama president. “January 11 will be a fun family event and a memorable day. We invite folks to stop by, enjoy lunch, and see all the products and services that we have to offer from this beautiful new store.”

Contact U-Haul Moving & Storage of the Emerald Coast at (850) 659-6113 or stop by to visit general manager April Audet. Hours of operation are 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Saturday; 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday; and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Reserve equipment at or contact Reservations at 1-800-GO-UHAUL.

Acquisition of the former Kmart was driven by U-Haul Corporate Sustainability initiatives: U-Haul supports infill developments to help local communities lower their carbon footprint. The adaptive reuse of existing buildings reduces the amount of energy and resources required for new-building materials and helps cities reduce their unwanted inventory of unused buildings.

By repurposing this building, U-Haul has prevented the use of 1,727 tons of metal manufacturing and transportation (the amount of steel used to make 1,741 passenger cars); avoided 6,174 tons of new concrete pours (enough to create 125 miles of concrete blocks); kept 8,067 tons of building and demolition debris out of landfills (avoiding 310 dump trucks traveling 6,516 miles); and stopped 9,413,095 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere (the carbon emissions of 722 large SUVs or pickup trucks for one year).

“U-Haul is excited to be part of this community by providing residential mobility and a secure storage facility to our U.S. Armed Forces men and women at the Eglin Air Force Base just a few minutes away, as well as the residents moving here from all over the world,” Rome added.

“We have also worked closely with the Audubon Society to maintain a Rooftop Bird-friendly habitat for the threatened Least Turn and Black Skimmer. Our gravel roof is the perfect nesting ground due to lost habitat from growth in the area.”

Rome intends to hire at least 20 Team Members to staff the store. U-Haul will look to hire locally to promote job growth within the Fort Walton Beach community. U-Haul, ranked as a leading veteran-friendly business on the 2022 “Best for Vets: Employers” list by The Military Times, actively recruits veterans and gives them preference in the hiring process. Find U-Haul careers at

Grand Opening at U-Haul of the Emerald Coast

  • When: 10 a.m-12 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 11
  • Where: 200 Irwin Ave. NE, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548
  • What: Free lunch, ribbon-cutting, facility tours
  • Who: Open to the public
  • Hosts: U-Haul and the Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce

About U-HAUL

Founded in 1945, U-Haul is the No. 1 choice of do-it-yourself movers, with a network of more than 23,000 locations across all 50 states and 10 Canadian provinces. U-Haul Truck Share 24/7 offers secure access to U-Haul trucks every hour of every day through the customer dispatch option on their smartphones and our proprietary Live Verify technology. Our customers' patronage has enabled the U-Haul fleet to grow to approximately 186,000 trucks, 128,000 trailers and 46,000 towing devices. U-Haul is the third largest self-storage operator in North America and offers 913,000 rentable storage units and 78.1 million square feet of self-storage space at owned and managed facilities. U-Haul is the largest retailer of propane in the U.S., and continues to be the largest installer of permanent trailer hitches in the automotive aftermarket industry. U-Haul has been recognized repeatedly as a leading “Best for Vets” employer and was recently named one of the 15 Healthiest Workplaces in America. 


Andrea Batchelor

Jeff Lockridge


Phone: 602-263-6194


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