U-Haul Denied K-Mart Conversion in Illinois

Posted by Modern Storage Media on Jun 19, 2024 7:46:55 PM

City Council members in Rockford, Illinois have rejected a deal that would have allowed U-Haul to convert a former Kmart, located at 5909 E. State Street, into a self-storage facility in exchange for developing the exterior of the property with at least two new restaurants or retail shops. The decision to reject the deal and a special-use permit comes on the heels of a Zoning Board of Appeals approval of the project in May. 


U-Haul has owned the vacant space since 2018. The company wants to bring 60,000 square feet of climate-controlled self storage to the site, and 35,000 square feet of climate controlled U-Box storage. Meanwhile, Orput Companies, the developer working with U-Haul, would redevelop the vacant KFC restaurant and build three other businesses into the property. Orput would also have made pedestrian safety improvements and built green space in the center of the existing parking lot that would improve stormwater detention. 


"[The project] offers a unique opportunity to transform a blighted property into a vibrant multi-use commercial hub,” argued Greg Orput, president and CEO of Orput Companies, in front of the Council. He further pointed out that the new businesses would generate an estimated $12.25 million in sales annually and create approximately 125 jobs.


Regarding the 10-2 vote, Alderman Mark Bonne, who opposed the deal, said, “No matter how much you dress this project up, [self-storage and truck rental] represents a disappointing trend of second-rate use for what should be prime commercial property."


“I guess since we don’t envision a U-Haul there with this tenant, we just envision an empty lot,” said Alderwoman Gabrielle Torina, who supported the redevelopment. She, like other supporters of the project, doesn't foresee another big box retailer moving in, which will likely leave the space vacant indefinitely. “That’s what we’re voting on right, to not develop at all.”