DeKALB - A 20,000 square foot self storage facility is coming to DeKalb in the north side portion of the former Eagle Shopping Center on Sycamore Road.
Rockford-based developers First Midwest Group, which owns the DeKalb Shopping Center space which has been vacant since 2015, will install the interior access units known as DeKalb-Harlem LLC at 1700 Sycamore Road. The development was approved unanimously by the DeKalb City Council this week. Ward 3 Alderman Tracy Smith and Ward 6 Alderman Mike Verbic were absent from the meeting.
Petitioners say the space will bring needed improvements and entice additional new businesses to the former retail shopping center which has struggled to solicit commercial development in years past.
“We had had that experience at some of our other centers,” said Mark Robinson, chief operating officer with First Midwest Group. He said the group redeveloped a former Kmart in Rockford into a self-storage unit.
“It just added color to the building, and doing something with it inspired a Taco Bell out front, and we’re building an Aldis,” Robinson said of the Rockford development. “Our intention is to do the same thing here.”
The units will range in size from 30 to 300 square feet, according to city documents, and be climate controlled for people to rent and use to store items. The facility will not be regularly staffed by an employee, but will have secured electronic access. There will also be regular janitorial and maintenance service.
The lot will offer 332 parking spaces, but developers estimate about 15 visitors a day and 20 to 25 on the weekends, documents state.
City Manager Bill Nicklas said the self storage unit is a better option than retail at this point.
“The setback of the line of stores that were once part of that shopping center is very significant,” said City Manager Bill Nicklas. “It’s also in the shadow of the more dynamic shopping center, Market Square. So it hasn’t been leasable and the depth of space would take a really unique user. We haven’t found one and the owner hasn’t found one.”
Ward 2 Alderwoman Barb Larson said she thinks it’s a great idea, but was concerned about waste.
“I think there’s a need, but I also know from other areas that I’ve been to of the concerns of those people, who take what they want out of their units and when they’re done, there’s a large amount of trash,” Larson said.
Robinson said his team has dealt with similar issues before with individually rented storage units.
“The answer to that is every month, some people don’t renew their lease,” Robinson said. “Most of them take their stuff, but some of them don’t. Approximately quarterly, [we’ll] look at all the stuff that’s left, and either gets thrown away or goes to an auction.”
Ward 7 Alderman Tony Faivre said the plan is a positive for the local economy.
“Thank you for taking care of the property and continuing to invest in DeKalb,” Faivre said.
The developers, which also brought Michigan-based grocer Meijer to Sycamore, also recently confirmed a Starbucks is set to go into the building being constructed along Sycamore Road in front of the Meijer, next to Jiffy Lube.
[ Starbucks is coming to Sycamore in front of Meijer, says developer ]
“Our intention is to bring good development to the city,” Robinson said, adding the plans will alleviate a longtime vacant commercial space in DeKalb. “We are dedicated to keeping it in the city.”