24 Hour Self Storage received approval for a special-use permit from the Bristol Tennessee Regional Municipal Planning Commission this week, supporting owner Richard Bowie’s plans to build a fully automated storage facility on an 8-acre parcel. City staff had recommended against the permit, citing general compatibility issues with other developments near the site off of Volunteer Parkway.
The property is bordered by a Honda dealership and is beside Sacred Cross Church. It is also surrounded by property with three different zoning designations, including residential, institutional and commercial, according to the source.
As part of the permit approval, Shari Brown, Bristol’s director of economic and community development, gave Bowie a list of 10 requirements he must meet. These include following the façade rules of the Volunteer Parkway Overlay building requirements, installing a fire hydrant at the front of the business, and providing ingress and egress off of Volunteer Parkway. Brown also stipulated that the permit would apply only to the portion of the property being developed, the source reported.
If Bowie meets the requirements, the project will move to city council for final approval.
Bowie said he intended to meet the permit conditions and told the commission the self-storage facility would be a productive use of the site, which has been vacant for more than 35 years. “This property has been marketed and listed by seven different realty companies and not one offer had been made on it,” he said. “If you get a non-franchised restaurant in there, studies tell us that 90 to 95 percent of them go broke within five years. You’re left with an empty building with no income coming in, no tax coming in and no jobs. If I didn’t think it was needed or would be successful, I wouldn’t want to put it there. This seemed like a reasonable place to build a business like this.”
Commission chair Kelly Graham said it will be important for the site’s design to fit in with other businesses in the area. “I think the overlay restriction on parkway property means that these buildings will have to be dressed up,” he said. “I would have preferred a restaurant or retail [in that location], preferably something that would bring cash registers to the Volunteer Parkway. However, given the fact that there is no median cut coming from the south, I felt it limited the potential uses of that site.”
Graham also expressed concern about how the storage building could impact a 100-year flood plain, which is on a large portion of the remaining property below the development site. “My concern is those people downstream and that a new structure would adversely affect them,” he said. “We have to rely on the city engineers to safeguard those residents.”
Bowie said he was confident the flood plain would not be an issue to move the project forward.
24 Hour Self Storage operates six facilities in Tennessee and one in Virginia.