• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Unanswered questions about U-Haul’s plans to open here

A U-HAUL TRUCK and van were parked outside of the former storefront of Kroger in the Lexington Road Plaza last Thursday. U-Haul wants to open a self-storage and rental facility in the shopping center, but has not yet had any plans approved for an adaptive reuse of the former Kroger or Kmart buildings. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

A COMING SOON SIGN atop the Lexington Road Plaza monument sign proclaims U-Haul’s intentions to open a self-storage and rental facility in the shopping center where Kroger and Kmart were formerly its anchors. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

An opening soon U-Haul sign has been put on the Lexington Road Plaza monument sign, but a company spokesman said no date has been set for when its proposed self-storage and rental facility will open there.

A U-Haul rental truck and van were parked in front of the former Kroger store last Thursday. However, Chris Nester, U-Haul Company of Louisville president, did not state in his email where “a full-service U-Haul store” would be located in the Lexington Road Plaza. Kmart, the shopping center’s other anchor tenant, closed its doors last month.

No application for a development plan or seeking a zone change had been received by the Planning Commission office, but Nester’s email stated that “U-Haul is working with the City of Versailles on finalizing renovation plans.”

Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott said the city has continued to communicate with U-Haul, primarily about maintaining quality retail space in the Lexington Road Plaza.

He described the company’s coming soon sign as “a little presumptuous,” and said he’s “not convinced that storage is an appropriate use there.”

Located in the highway business (B-4) district, principal uses in the Lexington Road Plaza include motels, filling stations, restaurants, lumberyards, produce stands, new and used auto sales, and public garages. Other uses include outdoor and indoor display and sales of farm implements; and “any other uses which are determined by the Board of Adjustment to be of the same general character as the permitted principal uses which will not be detrimental to the district in which they are located or neighboring districts,” the B-4 zoning ordinance states.

In a letter addressed to members of the Board of Adjustment, Joe Gay and Linda Moraja, who own two established self-storage businesses in Versailles, stated that the “proposed uses will be out-of-character with the existing principal uses … and do not, in our opinion, meet the desired standard to aid the economic vitality of our community.” The owners of these locally-owned self-storage facilities also included data making their case (based on adult population) that Woodford County is not an underserved self-storage market.

“I think we’re meeting the demand and I think we can meet the future growth,” said Gay. And with “no big need in our community” for more self-storage space, the owner of JPG Rental and Storage said allowing a U-Haul to locate in this community’s B-4 district “could set a dangerous precedent.”

Citing 160,000 square-feet of retail space, Traugott said if U-Haul does move into a vacant Kroger or Kmart space in the Lexington Road Plaza “that’s a big loss for retail potential.”

And with the recent openings of Versailles Brewing Company in the Lexington Road Plaza and other businesses, including a motel coming soon, the local business owners said they do not see a need to allow an industrial use to occupy valuable retail space along a main corridor into Versailles. “You put your pretty stuff out front,” said Moraja, who owns MR Storage with her two siblings. “They’ve got to make it look nice,” said Traugott, “whatever happens there.”

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