Update 5/4/17 – The Sokol family has completed its conversion of the former Sokol’s Market grocery store and opened Queensbury Storage for business. The family did much of its own interior demolition and remodeling work in preparation for the installation of 68 units, according to the source. The facility features electronic access using key fobs and video cameras for security.
The conversion required the removal of four layers of ceiling tiles and the installation of a new roof. Some grocery-store remnants remain including shopping carts, which customers can use to transport items to and from their units, the source reported.
Brothers Michael and Tim Sokol will oversee the self-storage operation.
6/17/16 – The owner of a former grocery store in Queensbury, NY, is seeking a zoning amendment to convert his now vacant property to a self-storage facility. Matt Sokol hasn’t been able to secure a new retail tenant for Sokol’s Market space at 340 Aviation Road since the family-owned supermarket closed in February 2013. He and his attorney, Michael Borgos, discussed the proposed storage development with the Queensbury Town Board in workshop meetings on May 18 and June 13. For the project to move forward, the board would need to amend the city’s zoning to allow interior self-storage units as a special-use, according to the source.
Sokol’s plan is to leave the majority of the building’s exterior as is and add self-storage units to the interior, keeping them invisible from the street. The front windows would be frosted or painted over with murals. Customer would load and unload their goods at the back of the property, the source reported.
“We mean something totally different from what we all view as traditional self-storage,” Borgos said. “We want to keep the look the same and preserve the architectural heritage of the neighborhood.”
During the planning meetings, board members voiced their concerns about the building’s aesthetics. “If we’re going to do it, we want to do it in a way that what you see from the road is something that is respectful,” said William VanNess, councilman for Queensbury’s fourth ward.
They also discussed how the zoning change might affect other commercial developments in the area. Doug Irish, councilman for the third ward, suggested interior storage should only be allowed for existing buildings in a neighborhood-commercial zone. Land in more intensive commercial areas should be reserved for developments that bring in a higher assessment, VanNess added.
Town supervisor John Strough asked the town’s lawyers to review the language for the proposed zoning change to ensure the amendment would be restricted to interior self-storage units, and prohibit retail or industrial warehouse use. “You don’t want it to be a warehouse [with] trucks going in and out of there every day,” he said.
A public hearing will be set after the zoning-amendment language is approved by the board, Strough said.
Sokol is also considering a former fire house on Ridge Road in Queensbury as a possible storage-development site, Borgos said.
Sokol’s Market opened in the neighborhood in the 1970s. It offered weekly grocery delivery to community residents. Increased competition and economic pressures were factors in the business’ closing, Sokol said.
- The Post-Star: Queensbury Storage Opens in Sokol's Plaza
- The Post-Star: Updated: Interior Storage Eyed for Queensbury Buildings
- The Post-Star: End of an Era: After 40 Years, Sokol's Market in Queensbury to Close