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Storage of America Pursues Self-Storage Conversion for Monroe, MI

The Monroe, Mich., City Council unanimously rejected a rezoning application last week from Indianapolis-based self-storage operator Storage of America LLC (SOA), but recommended the company and its developer, McKenna Development LLC, pursue a planned-unit development (PUD) instead. In an effort to convert the former La-Z-Boy Inc. furniture-manufacturing facility at 1284 N. Telegraph Road, SOA requested the zoning be changed from general commercial to light industrial to allow self-storage. Though that request was denied, the PUD favored by the city would allow a mixed-use development that could include self-storage, according to the source.

In declining the rezoning request, the council followed the recommendation of the planning commission. “Our initial discussions were primarily about storage,” city manager Vincent Pastue told the council. “As an option, we have had dialogue that the property would lend itself a lot more for a PUD to be considered. This [vote] does not close the door on this.”

“We took a run at the Target that was vacant, and we are excited to be here in this city,” Robert Walker, president of SOA, said during the meeting. “The La-Z-Boy site is the perfect facility for us.” Walker also stressed to the council that SOA specializes in self-storage conversion projects.

“I understand that the objection at the planning commission was going from C-2 to I-1 [zoning],” Walker said. “I understand there was concern that if we don’t do storage, then we could do something like heavy manufacturing. We are prepared to agree today to a deed restriction so that should eliminate concerns.”

Despite the concession, the council didn’t vote on a deed restriction. Walker then proposed moving forward with a mixed-use project for the site, the source reported. “We would want to have an executive office program to lease to other businesses,” he told the council. “With the lobby, we proposed to do a retail store along with a property-management office. We would sell storage and packaging goods. The rest would be self-storage.”

Kurt L. Darrow, president and CEO of La-Z-Boy, indicated the building has been for sale for more than three years. “We have had two legitimate offers,” he said during the meeting. “The first was U-Haul and now this. It’s a big piece of property, and it is ironic it was OK to manufacture furniture there but not OK to store stuff now.”

Darrow also urged the council to consider changes in consumer habits and subsequent retail closures in determining appropriate uses for the site, according to the source.

No expected timeline for the approval process was provided should SOA pursue the PUD recommendation.

SOA operates six self-storage facilities in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. Founded in 2003, the company also has 10 locations under development, according to its website. It uses a vertical-integration model, in which 12 wholly owned subsidiaries perform most of the design, planning and construction on its projects.


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