Real estate developer Cherney Development Co. Inc. intends to convert the former Happy’s Flea Market in Roanoke, Va., to self-storage. Company affiliate Fort Knox 5411 Williamson Road LLC acquired the 11-acre property in December for $950,000. Owner Jim Cherney intends to keep the shell of an existing 90,000-square-foot structure and offer drive-through, interior storage, according to a source. Though the project will require a special-use permit, Cherney is hopeful that construction will be complete by summer.
The nearly 60-year-old structure was deemed unsafe by the city in 2015, forcing the weekend flea market to close. Cherney has already begun clearing the site, but work inside the building was halted on Jan. 15 after asbestos was discovered inside some tiles. Efforts could resume this week if final testing comes back clean, a source reported.
Local businesses appear to favor the project. Wendy Jones, executive director of the Williamson Road Area Business Association, told a source that redeveloping vacant properties is positive for the community. "Whenever you take a vacant, dilapidated piece of property and you get it viable again, that's huge—just huge,” she said.
“I think it’s a really great idea," added Tony Ardila, who manages a pet store adjacent to the storage site. "I think as much as we can use that space for the wellness of the community the better."
Cherney Development is also in the permitting stage of another Roanoke project in which it’s converting a former auto-parts building to self-storage.
Based in Winston-Salem, N.C., Cherney Development specializes in commercial-property conversions and multi-family housing. It built several Fort Knox Self Storage facilities in North Carolina and Washington, D.C., according to the company website.