An Indiana-based company wants to convert a vacant Target retail store in Springfield into an indoor self-storage facility.
Springfield’s city commissioners will hear a rezoning request Wednesday, Jan. 2, to decide whether to make a change allowing the vacant retail store to be converted to an indoor, climate-controlled storage business, according to a request filed with the city.
The News-Sun previously reported the Target store at 1885 W. First St. closed in 2016 as part of a move that shut down a total of 13 stores nationwide, including one other Ohio store in Columbus.
The zoning request was filed because the current zoning regulations, labeled a highways commercial district, do not permit indoor storage as a use, said Stephen Thompson, planning and zoning administrator for Springfield. The applicants, a limited liability company called 1885 W. First St. LLC, are asking to convert the site to a community commercial district allowing indoor storage as a conditional use, he said.
That company purchased the property for about $1.5 million in September.
Robert McCormack, a partner with Midwest Self-storage Development, LLC., said his company’s portfolio also includes retail projects, office space and hotels. One of the company’s strategies is to locate vacant retail properties that can be converted into self-storage space, he said.
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“Self-storage is the fastest-growing component of our portfolio,” he said.
He said the self-storage industry has seen significant improvements over the last several years. A self-storage company likely would not be able to afford to build a brand-new facility of that size, McCormack said. Buying the vacant sites at a discount allows the company to own a large, well-maintained property and develop the business at a fraction of the cost, he said. And the business model provides a new use for a facility that in many cases has been left vacant for years.
“There’s a growing inventory of former big-box stores that might in their heyday have been prime retail space, but haven’t been able to survive,” McCormack said.
Even the city’s zoning request statement shows that corridor of the city has been a difficult place to run a store.
“As is apparent by the number of vacant structures on W. 1st St., the dead-end nature of the street has not lended itself well to retail or restaurant use and the requested zoning change would benefit the community and the spirit and intent of the city’s zoning code,” the statement says.
The self-storage business is expected to open this summer. McCormack said the storage facilities have led to more retail investment surrounding the self-storage sites in other cities like Fort Wayne, Ind. and Lansing, Mich., once the vacant big box stores are back in use.
If city commissioners approve the change, the company would still need to go to the board of zoning appeals for a hearing before final approval. City documents show the property includes a roughly 105,000 square foot building on a little more than 11 acres of land.
The decision to close the Target store was unpopular at that time. As many as 2,100 area residents signed a petition online asking the retailer’s executives to reconsider the decision, although the attempt was not successful.
Several longtime retail firms including Macy’s and J.C. Penney have also closed retail locations in Clark County over the past several years.The News-Sun also reported last week that Sears, the lone remaining anchor at the Upper Valley Mall, was included on a list of 80 stores the historic retailer is planning to close.