Company wants to turn former Gary supermarket into indoor storage units
A former supermarket building in Gary could wind up being converted into a storage unit, with the 69,000 square feet of space allowing for storage lockers contained completely indoors.
Midwest Self-Storage Development LLC of Valparaiso wants to buy the former Ultra Foods site on Ridge Road between Colfax and Calhoun streets where a Menards store is located. Todd Leeth, an attorney representing Midwest Self-Storage, told the Gary Common Council’s Planning Committee that the company wants Menards to sign a new lease when its current agreement for the site expires in 2019.
Midwest Self-Storage wants to take the supermarket space that sits vacant and convert it into a building filled with storage lockers that people could rent for their personal use.
There is another structure on the property that has some smaller-scale businesses operating, and Leeth said the company would like to keep them — although possibly in a to-be-built structure nearby while the current storefronts could be converted into administrative offices for the self-storage facility.
Leeth told council members that one potential benefit to the self-storage plan is that the lockers would not be exposed to the outdoors, as they are in many other self-storage facilities.
“You won’t see 50 or 60 garage doors all in a row. They’ll be indoors with access to the premises controlled through a single entrance. ... We actually think those rows of garage doors are ugly, this will be better looking for the community,” Leeth said.
Leeth also said that a selfstorage facility might be the best option that Gary would be capable of finding to take over the one-time supermarket.
“This really is a good way to repurpose a building like this,” he said. “It’s difficult to find replacements to fill the space that was once a big box store.”
Gary Board of Zoning Appeals Director Mary Hurt said her board gave its recommendation to the project, despite the fact that no one indicated support to letters the city sent out to adjacent property owners.
She also acknowledged a petition that had some 600 signatures in opposition to the project, with many indicating they’d prefer to have another grocery store replace Ultra Foods.
Leeth said he believes many of the signatures are suspect, and council member Linda BarnesCaldwell said she is pleased that this project would at least fill the space with a functioning business — albeit not one that would create many jobs.
Leeth also said that insofar as displacing a food store is concerned, the site is within a block of an Aldi’s grocery store.