Downtown self-storage building proposal heads to Roanoke council. Roanoke Times: Roanoke News
February 13, 2017 – By Matt Chittum
Downtown dwellers in need of space to store their kayaks, mountain bikes, or anything else that won’t fit in their apartment may soon have an option in the area’s first “urban design self-storage” business.
The Roanoke Planning Commission voted 6-0 with one member absent Monday to recommend approval of a rezoning to allow a Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based developer to build a three-story self-storage facility on Williamson Road just south of downtown.
“It’s a good sign there’s a growing demand for ancillary services,” said Assistant Roanoke City Manager Brian Townsend.
“The time is right for a modern approach to self-storage,” said Maryellen Goodlatte, attorney for Cherney Development Co.
She said the target market for the business is apartment dwellers, mainly millennials, who often need more storage than is available in their apartments for lifestyle equipment. Small businesses also may be customers, Goodlatte said.
The 56,000-square-foot building will go on the site of a long-vacant auto parts distribution warehouse that will be demolished, Goodlatte said. The entire site is 1.48 acres.
The building will have a variety of unit sizes, be climate controlled, have elevators and be designed for frequent access.
According to its application, Cherney has developed eight similar buildings in the Washington, D.C., area.
The bulk of the site is in a floodplain, Goodlatte said, so the first floor of the building will be elevated to 5 feet above street level.
The facility should generate a small amount of additional traffic, about 200 vehicles per day, the application said.
The city’s planning staff recommended approval of the application.
Two owners of nearby businesses spoke in favor of the project, citing the fact that the derelict building on the site is frequented by transients.
One resident of a nearby residential street opposed the plan, saying it was unnecessary because there are existing storage facilities within a mile or two to the east.
The city recently changed its zoning ordinance to be more amenable to this kind of use in certain areas.
Townsend said the same use wouldn’t be appropriate in the middle of downtown, in the old Heironimus building, for example. But along that stretch of Williamson Road it provides a nearby service for residents of downtown as well as further south along the Jefferson Street corridor, and also redevelops an older industrial area in need of some attention.
The proposal is a sign that the still burgeoning downtown living trend, coupled with development around the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute, has reached a critical mass necessary to drive creation of new services.