Rezoning of former Englewood Kmart for U-Haul met with opposition

The former Kmart in Englewood is being sought after by U-Haul, which wants to rezone the area and use it for storage units.

The Englewood zoning commission tabled the case again to rezone the former Kmart, which is currently zoned as C-3 or community commercial. Moving and storage company U-Haul wants to rezone to a S-PUD or special planned unit development. The case was tabled to find a way to make the U-Haul deal happen while meeting the concerns of local residents and small businesses.

U-Haul wants to retrofit the 9.6-acre area to house upwards of 400 indoor and outdoor self-storage units with 24-hour access, 20 to 30 trucks and trailers, and a retail space for selling moving and packing materials.

“We started purchasing Kmarts specifically because the size of the buildings and they’re a shell already so there’s not a whole lot of demo on the inside,” said Mark Quinn, U-Haul of Dayton marketing president.

A large concern for board members and some residents was the effect the large trucks would have on the visibility of businesses in Country Square Shopping Center once the landscaping is complete and the front of the parking lot is lined with box trucks.

“It’s impossible not to look at this from a selfish perspective … and in our case visibility is enormous. We are concerned with our livelihood and ultimately, more importantly, our tenants' livelihood," said Country Square Shopping Center owner Barry Weaver.

Planning commission secretary Scott Cunningham said he couldn’t think of any way to make it work where all stakeholders are satisfied.

“To me, we have to consider existing businesses, we don’t want to impact those. We don’t want to swap a vacant Kmart for a vacant row of shops that are trying to make a go,” he said.

“My choice is to give Mr. Quinn and city staff a chance to look at this some more. I think there is some way that we can make this work,” said planning commission president John Sorna.

The Kmart has been closed since 2016 and residents said they would like to see something more family and community oriented. Some area residents are concerned with the lighting from the facility shining in to their homes, the noise and traffic it would bring, and the impact on the city’s image.

The back of the facility would face the backyards of residents on Meadowgrove Drive, leading many residents to oppose the storage facility. Resident Viktorija Cecil lives directly behind the empty Kmart and said she agrees that something needs to be done to the space, just not a storage facility.

“Allowing U-Haul or allowing a storage facility to move in would make an assumption that this place will never get better, meaning that there is no other option other than a storage facility,” she said. “I have some 225 signatures on a petition that I created. So, I ask you to not give up on Englewood because that’s what it feels like when you put a storage facility in my backyard.”

The next meeting is planned for December and if the commission votes in favor of the rezoning, the case would still need to be approved by city council.

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