Developer proposes new self-storage building for Williamson Road property near downtown

Published: Feb. 13, 2017 at 4:43 PM EST
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The property sits in the flood plain, with the existing building long vacant.

The proposal to demolish the former auto parts warehouse and put up a new self-storage building, say nearby business owners, would be good for the area.

Richard White owns a business on adjoining property.

"This would be a great improvement from what it is and has been, you know, for the last five or six years since it's been vacated," White told WDBJ7.

Developer Jim Cherney is planning a three-story, climate-controlled building with elevators.

And he hopes to have an overnight delivery center on the first floor.

Roanoke attorney Maryellen Goodlatte represented the developer at Monday's meeting of the Roanoke Planning Commission.

"He's found that his target market basically are apartment dwellers, principally millennials," Goodlatte told the planning commission, "along with small businesses who need to have convenient and frequent access to storage."

But not everyone thinks a self-storage facility is the best use of the property.

Duane Howard is a resident of southeast Roanoke.

"We've spent millions on the greenway. We've spent millions on Elmwood Park, millions on downtown, millions on the extension of downtown out to Roanoke Memorial," Howard told WDBJ7 in an interview Monday afternoon. "And this is simply the wrong place for a mini-storage facility."

Howard believes more housing, or a business tied to healthcare or bio-medical research would be better fit for the property.

Her notes there are other self-storage facilities close to downtown, including one just across the highway.

Despite his concerns, the city's planning staff recommended approval of the project, and members of the Planning Commission were unanimous in their support.

Now the project now heads to city council for final approval.