Shreveport’s Metropolitan Planning Commission will provide a public hearing for a use approval on a potential self storage facility in the 4000 block of Fern Avenue next door to Marilynn’s Place. The meeting will be Wednesday, December 7, 2016 at 3:00PM in Government Plaza Chambers at 505 Travis Street.
The current structure is owned by the Brookshire’s grocery store chain and has been used in the past as a training facility. Mr. Ricky Lennard, owner of other self storage facilities in Shreveport, is proposing an expansion of the current building from 20,000 square feet to approximately 60,000 square feet.
How is this a thing? On the surface, there isn’t much that can be deemed controversial about this plan. According to a Facebook post by Mr. Lennard in the South Highland’s Neighborhood group:
“The office hours at the property will be 8-6 Monday thru Saturday, closed Sunday. Tenants will be able to access the facility until 9pm at which time it will close.”
Mr. Lennard provided renderings showing a well landscaped structure with a stucco facade that doesn’t conform to the historical aesthetic of the neighborhood, but is more appealing than what would be required in an industrial district.
Aren’t storage facilities considered an industrial use? Not always: this particular area is zoned as a B-2-A, a Business Park district. In our current zoning, self storage facilities up to 20,000 square feet are considered a use by right. This means that Mr. Lennard could have renovated 20,000 square feet of the current 23,000 square foot building without any action from the MPC board. The reason that this case has come to the community’s attention is because of the proposed addition of 40,000 square feet which will expand the storage facility into what is currently a parking lot. A storage facility of this size will require action by the MPC board and that could be as simple as adding it to the consent agenda for approval with other items that do not require a public hearing.
What about the new code, the UDC, what would it allow? The Unified Development Code would not allow any storage facilities in this district. The UDC hasn’t been adopted yet so we have to use the current guidelines. It is prudent, though to keep in mind that our new zoning, which is supposed to reflect our community’s desires for the future of our city, as outlined in the Master Plan, would not allow this structure to be considered without a request to rezone the district.
That might be a thing, but other than taking a lot of parking from Marilynn’s and being a big storage facility instead of something cooler, what is there to ponder, and why should we care?
Perhaps we shouldn’t. Two things should be noted: first, the most recent design concepts for the building allow for 35 parking spaces for Marilynn’s Place and second, there are rumored deed restrictions on the property that may prohibit certain uses. New development might increase tax revenue, and the improvements to the building will increase the property’s value.
But we should also ask the following questions:
- Will a self storage facility contribute to the neighborhood?
- Is there a more suitable business for this district, and if so, where is that developer?
- When will the UDC, which wouldn’t allow this type of development, be adopted?
So, dear readers what are your thoughts? Please share them with us and consider going to the MPC meeting on Wednesday to have your voice heard or to stand and be counted.
*Images from othe Metropolitan Planning Commission office.