Since Kmart closed its 2327 N. Harrison location in October, the local rumor mill has toyed with ideas of what might fill the unusually large space now.

Since Kmart closed its 2327 N. Harrison location in October, the local rumor mill has toyed with ideas of what might fill the unusually large space now.

Boasting just more than eight acres, the property has a lot of room to fill — too much for the average business opportunity. Community Development Director Justin DeBruin said at 84,000 square feet, there is a limited market interest in the reuse of the former Kmart building.

DeBruin said applicant Amerco Real Estate Company, a real estate subsidiary of U-Haul, for the last 10 years has made it a business to repurpose larger abandoned sites that tend to go unused.

U-Haul has requested a rezone to refurbish the building into a U-Haul Moving and Storage Store.

“Our uses will consist of indoor climate-controlled self-storage, U-Haul truck and trailer-sharing and related retail sales,” Scott Brackin, marketing company president, U-Haul Company of Oklahoma, said.

Likely 50,000 square feet of the building will be used for storage, he said.

“Customers would be able to drive inside and load/unload out of the rain, cold or hot weather,” he said. “I believe we are offering Shawnee residents something different than what's around right now.”

Some residents, however, voiced disapproval at the notion.

DeBruin said there have been a few protest letters.

“Some residents from the Northridge Addition — to the east of the site — are concerned primarily about the conversion to C-3 commercial zoning,” he said. “The current use versus what's allowed for C-3 are basically identical.”

Neighborhood resident Andrea Brown said, though she was glad to hear some of the details shared so far, she still had concerns.

“Loading the parking lot with trucks would possibly decrease our property value just for the fact that it would be such an eyesore,” she said.

“And we have self-storage all over town; it's getting to where we kind of look like we have warehouses everywhere,” she said. “We just want a healthy balance.”

She said it just doesn't look good to be right in the middle of Shawnee.

Brown said she also was concerned about rodents and pests, because people bring their stuff there; that's an issue, she said.

Pam Cook, a manager for a current storage facility, also had qualms about the potential business.

“I don't think it's a good idea,” she said. “It's going to hurt the rest of us in our little businesses and the U-Haul business we've already got.”

She said she thinks it's more than Shawnee needs.

“We are inundated right now with storage,” she said.

Planning Commissioner Cody Deem said she, too, had concerns regarding the aesthetics of the site.

“I would hope that — if we (commissioners) have any further input, not only can we try to make it so that it looks better; I don't want to have another parking lot like the U-Haul we have up on North Harrison,” she said.

She asked if DeBruin could ask for some landscaping.

DeBruin said the site in particular does not fall under required landscaping standards.

“And theoretically they could load that whole lot with trucks,” she said.

DeBruin agreed U-Haul could.

Brackin said from a business standpoint it was not his wish to pack the lot with trucks.

“Our goal is to have them out hauling things,” he said. If there are too many on the lot, a rep comes and takes them to places where they are short of trucks, he said.

“Staff finds the subject proposal to be a positive opportunity for the City of Shawnee,” DeBruin said.

The store is projected to employ 10 to 15 full-time and part-time staff positions. The store also will offer a variety of products and services, such as truck and trailer rentals and packing supplies.

The board voted in favor of U-Haul's request.

The item will go before Shawnee City Commissioners at their March 19 meeting.

Watch for updates, as well as more of what was discussed during the Planning Commission's meeting.