Shreveport, LA, Planning Commission Approves Self-Storage Conversion Project

Update 1/23/17 – The Shreveport City Council is expected to decide on Tuesday whether to allow Southern Storage Centers to expand the Brookshire’s structure on Fern Avenue. If approved, the South Highlands Storage Center and Retail Shoppes project would expand the building from 23,000 to nearly 80,000 square feet, which exceeds the recommendation put forth by the metropolitan planning commission last month, according to the source. The commission recommended an expansion cap of 34 percent of the total property.

Update 1/23/17 – The Shreveport City Council is expected to decide on Tuesday whether to allow Southern Storage Centers to expand the Brookshire’s structure on Fern Avenue. If approved, the South Highlands Storage Center and Retail Shoppes project would expand the building from 23,000 to nearly 80,000 square feet, which exceeds the recommendation put forth by the metropolitan planning commission last month, according to the source. The commission recommended an expansion cap of 34 percent of the total property.

Lennard recently submitted plan changes based on planning feedback and community concerns. Those plans indicate a smaller first floor than initially proposed at 51,340 square feet, which would be 49 percent of the lot. The second floor would bring total square footage inside the building to 79,260, the source reported. In addition, plans now also include five retail spaces that would front Fern Avenue, including outdoor patio seating. The developer also indicated he’d install a 60-foot green space with oak trees and a pathway.

“We’re trying to accommodate the community and their concerns,” Lennard recently told planners. “We’ve been trying to be a good neighbor.”

Though the commission recommended the project, planners contended the proposed footprint was too large for only self-storage, calling it a “sterile” use of the property. Commission director Mark Sweeney said the “sterile” tag doesn’t apply with the addition of retail and the green space, according to the source. “They’ve really turned the corner on that initial recommendation,” Sweeney said. “The new site plan is more compatible with the neighborhood.”

Amid continued opposition from some residents, Dallas-based Spirit Realty Capital Inc. has expressed reservations about the facility’s design. The real estate firm owns the former El Chico and Campbell TV spaces, which are connected to the Brookshire’s building. Asset-management director Tyler Sorenson indicated the project would “detrimentally impact the ingress/egress of Spirit’s property,” in an email to the council clerk.

According to documents Lennard provided the commission, Brookshire’s is willing to sell the property only if it isn’t turned into a fast-foot restaurant, grocery store or other retail business that sells food, the source reported.


12/9/16 – The Shreveport, La., Metropolitan Planning Commission voted 8-1 yesterday to recommend approving a plan to convert a former Brookshire’s grocery store to a two-story self-storage facility. Southern Storage Centers is in the process of acquiring the Madison Park property, and though current zoning allows self-storage as a use, the operator needs city-council approval to expand the 20,000-square-foot structure, a source reported.

The commission voted favorably despite opposition from residents in the nearby Broadmoor neighborhood, who would prefer a mixed-use retail development that would bring more sales-tax revenue, according to a source. The structure hasn’t been an active retail site for about 20 years and is currently used by Brookshire’s as a training facility. Southern Storage CEO Ricky Lennard told the commission the $3 million project would wind up generating up to $100,000 in annual property taxes.

Lennard also indicated the company has 65 customers within a mile of the property who would be able to use the new facility rather than an existing location on Ellerbe Road. Though the land parcel itself would be the operator’s smallest, the expanded building would be the company’s largest. "I've been watching that Brookshire's for years, and no one has done anything with it," he told the commission. "We feel like we could be a good neighbor and build something good in it."

Rob Broussard, president of the Broadmoor Neighborhood Association, argued that no other uses have come before the city because Brookshire's hadn’t offered the structure for sale. "We believe [the self-storage facility] would lower property values," Broussard told the commission. "Build it within the confines of the structure, and I won't have a problem with it."

Two neighboring business owners spoke in favor of the project. "We're struggling right now," said Charles Klepper, who operates an Exxon gas station next to the building. "Some of us are doing well, some aren't. But we need some economic development. I'm for this; this is great."

Robert Baucum, owner of the adjacent restaurant Marilynn’s Place, told commissioners Lennard has been receptive to allowing overflow parking from the eatery to use the property’s excess space. Lennard also said he could accommodate Krewe of Highland, a local Mardi Gras group, to continue to use the property to stage its floats, according to a source.

Southern Storage Centers operates six self-storage facilities in Louisiana, including four in Shreveport.

Sources:

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