Augusta councilors reject large self-storage business proposal at former Kmart site

ByAnn Erika

Aug 1, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Augusta councilors have rejected a proposal to convert the vacant previous Kmart house on Western Avenue into a self-storage facility. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

AUGUSTA — Metropolis councilors have rejected a controversial proposal to redevelop the vacant and operate down previous Kmart website as a significant self-storage business enterprise.

Councilors and inhabitants stated the proposed new use would not be a great in good shape with what they and neighbors want to see that element of Western Avenue become.

Reps of the would-be developer, Las Vegas-based mostly Patriot Holdings, mentioned the program to convert the vacant previous Kmart setting up into a self-storage building would comply with a nationwide development of dying retail buying plazas staying transformed into “Class A” weather-managed self-storage facilities to meet the rising demand from customers for storage room. When that storage facility loaded up, the developer had planned to create a new a few-story setting up in the parking ton that would also household storage units.

Brandon Mitchell of Malone Industrial Brokers, a organization symbolizing Patriot Holdings in the proposal, reported the use would suit with the rest of the heavily-business Western Avenue. He pointed out even though driving to the website from the interstate that he handed various retail enterprises this sort of as Lowe’s, Target, fast food dining establishments, Earth Fitness, Applebees, and additional the UHaul site specifically across Western Avenue from the previous Kmart Plaza has self-storage units presently.

“Every business beneath the sunlight is on that strip, and this is why we come to feel this plaza ideal there, this Class A facility, would operate well with this retail location,” Mitchell informed town councilors Thursday night time. “We’re seeing these types of services now getting crafted in the course of the place and, actually, these aged purchasing centers that can’t be comprehensive, this is the craze, nationally. This spot is wonderful for a industrial use like this.”

Councilors acknowledged much of Western Avenue is very made with other commercial works by using but stated the stop exactly where the Kmart web-site is located is surrounded on both sides by classic household neighborhoods. And, some councilors explained, they and neighbors have hopes for a better, additional walkable foreseeable future for that stop of Western Avenue. They stated Western Avenue was to start with formulated commercially in advance of the metropolis had zoning, and was, before that progress, lined with trees and classy estates.

“The record in Augusta with Western Avenue is, we all despise it with a passion, so you are up towards that,” At-Big Councilor Heather Pouliot reported. “It was carried out in advance of we experienced zoning in the city and we have been creating a concerted hard work to go back to owning a additional wonderful Western Avenue, especially in this region. I just really do not think (the self-storage proposal) matches in the space.”

A self-storage business is not an allowed use in that zone, so the company essential councilors to approve a deal zone to make it possible for it as a conditional use there.

The developer revised the proposal, changing the 1st-proposed, garage-type exterior storage models planned to be built in the former Kmart parking large amount immediately after councilors criticized its aesthetics for this sort of a outstanding location. New plans referred to as for a three-tale constructing that looked far more like an business setting up, with interior storage models. Councilors claimed the revised proposal was an advancement but postponed the proposal following neighbors to the website expressed fears about it last thirty day period.

Metropolis councilors then rejected the proposed agreement zone in a 6-2 vote Thursday evening, probable killing the job.

Ward 3 Councilor Mike Michaud, who with Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Judkins were being the only supporters of the proposal on the council, claimed the developer had dealt with councilors’ issues about the aesthetics of the initial proposal. Michaud and Judkins claimed the developer deserved a probability to redevelop the vacant Kmart creating and revitalize the residence, which he fears will now remain in its run-down state. The residence is situated in Ward 1.

“Cleaning that house up and investing in that residence, we have somebody prepared to do that now, and I feel it would be a significant mistake to enable this property go any for a longer period mainly because these strip malls, brick-and-mortar shops, are phasing out,” Michaud explained. “I think we need to have to shift alongside with the occasions and I’m incredibly much in favor of Patriot Holdings performing what they want to do at this facility. I think when they’re accomplished it will be a stunning website and not un-maximizing to the surrounding neighborhoods.”

Resident Bruce Holmes, proprietor of Century 21 Venture Ltd. genuine estate in Augusta who stated a company he owned used to deal with the Kmart plaza, urged metropolis officers to find a larger and greater use for the website. He claimed the property features breathtaking sights of the state capitol intricate from the next floor of the Kmart setting up, which is at present vacant business office area. He mentioned Western Avenue is a substantial gateway into Augusta and the city has an obligation not just to its citizens but also to the condition to assistance respect and endorse the integrity of the spot all around the point out capitol advanced, and a self-storage facility so near to the advanced would not do that.

Instead, he suggested the city choose a leadership part to do the job with the home proprietor and advertise the progress of 20 to 40 condominium units on the website where by the Kmart building is now. Obtaining this sort of clientele could draw in new retail firms these types of as espresso retailers, dining places and health and fitness-linked firms, as well as for existing firms this kind of as a laundromat at the web page now, Holmes claimed.

“Augusta requires housing and housing could be the financial resolution and the respond to to the challenge the developers are now possessing with a dying plaza,” Holmes mentioned. “There is a great prospect, this is a magnificent web site.”

On the other hand Richard McGoldrick, proprietor of the home for the past two a long time, mentioned they’ve used the past a few decades hoping to appeal to new retail tenants to the plaza and a Massachusetts housing developer analyzed the potential to redevelop the site with housing. But they found it would be so high-priced to do so that the rents would not be economical.

“It’s thoroughly unrealistic to make that residences,” McGoldrick explained. “We’ve experimented with, feel me, we’ve tried extremely tough to make something transpire there.”

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