Carrie Rengers

This time a blue roof isn’t causing concern at 21st and Webb. It’s a whole building

A South Carolina retail developer wants to build a storage facility almost identical to this one just north of the former Granite City restaurant near 21st and Webb Road. Some nearby neighbors have concerns about the size of the project, particularly its 35-foot height.
A South Carolina retail developer wants to build a storage facility almost identical to this one just north of the former Granite City restaurant near 21st and Webb Road. Some nearby neighbors have concerns about the size of the project, particularly its 35-foot height. Courtesy illustration

UPDATED — Mere feet from where a blue roof once caused great neighborhood consternation at 21st and Webb Road, a proposed building is now causing some more.

In January, Have You Heard? reported that Greenville, S.C.-based Centennial American Properties, a retail developer, is building three storage units in Wichita that are going to look more like retail developments.

One building will be immediately behind the CVS at 13th and Maize Road and another will be across Kellogg from Costco and just east of where Groves Discount Wine & Spirits currently is.

Initially, Centennial president Brody Glenn said he was “putting the final touches on” plans for a third site.

He now confirms that site is just north of the former Granite City restaurant near the northeast corner of 21st and Webb Road.

Those finishing touches include making modifications to the building because just to the north of it is the Tallgrass East neighborhood.

“I’m sure when most people hear storage they think of the old mini storage, and that gets people cranked up automatically,” Glenn says.

He says this facility won’t be anything like that.

“The project that we’re doing is a project that will be a great neighbor for them,” Glenn says. “Alternatives could be a lot worse.”

Resident Camiell Dillehay has concerns about the facility but agrees with Glenn about possible alternatives.

She says she’s “conflicted because I feel that . . . the storage facility is the lesser of the evils. I would hate to see them put a QuikTrip or a fast food place there.”

Dillehay says she worries about the facility’s height and how it could affect her property value.

Resident Ben Sherman says he shares the same concerns.

“That’s actually going to be quite an eyesore,” he says of the potential building. “It’s just not really the best place for that kind of facility.”

Each of Centennial’s three buildings will be three stories, have about 750 climate-controlled units and have garage doors on two sides and a 30-foot drive that goes through the building.

Ten or more cars can use parallel parking on either side of the drive-through lane and have easy access to elevators.

Glenn says that has the benefit of being out of the weather and also cuts down on noise for anyone nearby.

At the facility near 21st and Webb Road, he says there will be modifications to address neighbors’ concerns, including dropping the building’s height by about 10 feet; not putting windows on the north side so nearby residents can have privacy; and routing cars from the north side of the building to the south side so lights won’t shine into the neighborhood.

Also, Glenn says, “We’re going to beef up the landscaping on the north side.”

Centennial needs approval to deviate from the community unit plan, which does not include storage facilities.

Glenn has already met with the homeowners association and plans to meet with residents on Monday before the planning commission considers the issue on Feb. 21.

“That’s part of this process is working with the neighbors to minimize their concerns as much as possible,” Glenn says.

Homeowners president Mark Philips says the Centennial team “seemed to be really willing to work with us.”

He says a lot of neighbors objected to the plans until they saw what the building would look like.

“The height seems to be the biggest concern,” Philips says.

Brad Saville of Landmark Commercial Real Estate is representing Glenn’s company on all its Wichita acquisitions.

Extra Space Storage, a national company with one site already in Wichita, will operate the storage units for Glenn. Each site will be branded with the Extra Space name.

Glenn says that intersection is attractive to him because he wants to serve the community within about two and a half miles of there.

Across the intersection at the northwest corner, the city in 2005 paid almost $78,000 to replace a blue roof of a water pump station that neighbors considered an eyesore. In its place, the city put a concrete tile roof designed to better resemble the shake-shingle style of roofs in the nearby neighborhood.

Glenn says he knows what happens around a neighborhood is a potentially emotional issue for some.

“We’re going to listen to them as much as we can . . . and have a final development that we can all be proud of — both us and the residents.”

Carrie Rengers has been a reporter for almost three decades, including 16 years at The Wichita Eagle. Her Have You Heard? column of business scoops runs five days a week in The Eagle. If you have a tip, please e-mail or tweet her or call 316-268-6340.

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