Mini-storage facility proposed for long-blighted Richmond site

Mini-storage facility proposed for vacant site in Shields-Reid neighborhood
Project rendering courtesy of the City of Richmond

A mini-storage facility is being proposed for a vacant, long-blighted 10.44-acre property on Chesley Avenue in Richmond.

On Wednesday, the city’s Design Review Board recommended that the Planning Commission approve a conditional use permit to Insite Property Group to construct a 250,000 square mini-storage facility at 1014 Chesley Ave., a property bound by railroad tracks and located near residences in the Shields-Reid neighborhood. The plans, introduced by applicant Brian Sorensen on behalf of Insite Property Group, include a 98,000 square-foot building, and 10 one-story, non-conditioned mini-storage buildings totaling 152,000 square feet.

Wednesday’s Board approval included several conditions on the project involving its lighting plan, the design for the 3-story building, changes to the security fence and landscape enhancement. The Planning Commission is set to review the proposal Sept. 3, and the Design Review Board must still review plans for the one-story storage buildings.

The property has been a blight in the community for many years, according to city documents. In years past, it served industrial functions and underwent some remediation, but more is needed, the city said.

“Developing the site would allow the appropriate remediation and enhance the quality of the surrounding soils and groundwater,” the city says.

Development of the site is welcome, said Marena Brown, president of Shields-Reid Neighborhood Council, ]in a March letter to the city’s mayor and councilmembers.

“The proposed project was very appealing to our neighborhood as we have seen this hazardous site vacant for the past 30+ years,” Brown said.

The neighborhood council’s primary concerns were local hiring and employment opportunities.

“Mr. Sorensen agreed to engage in local hiring agreements to employ our youth and community members during the course of construction,” Brown said.

The project would be built in three phases, with the first consisting of the construction of a 3-story, 97,446 square foot building adjacent to Chesley Avenue and eight one-story mini-storage buildings for a total of 96,791 square feet, according to the city. The second phase would consist of construction of one 1-story, 42,785 square foot mini-storage structure. Phase 3 involves construction of a final 1-story, 12,402 square-foot mini-storage structure.

About 55,000 cubic yards of soil will be imported during the first phase as part of the remediation process, while about 5,000 cubic yards would be exported from the site, the city said.

The project also includes a bioretention area, landscaping, and parking for customers.

— Mike Kinney contributed to this report