The self-storage facility planned for the former Kmart building on Riverside Drive will include 550 indoor units for tenants to store items and 14 commercial spaces with RV parking capacity.
The developer, Jim Cherney, said construction should begin in about four or five months and he hopes the business, Fort Knox Drive-Thru Self-Storage, will open by the end of the year.
"Right now, we're in the initial planning phase," Cherney, CEO of Cherney Development in Winston-Salem, N.C., said during a telephone interview Monday morning.
To enable tenants to load and unload their items inside the facility, the business will also include a 22-foot-wide drive-by aisle in the middle of the building, Cherney said.
Cherney bought the 92,900-square-foot former Kmart building from The Daniel Group in Danville earlier this month. Danville City Council approved rezoning of the building for use as self-storage in November 2020.
Kmart closed in January 2018 and the building has been vacant since.
Besides self-storage, Cherney also does multi-family residential development and renovation projects using historic tax credits, he said.
He said he has been following Danville economic progress the past few years.
"I was drawn to Danville because of the economic turnaround taking place," he said.
Cherney is banking on Danville's economic growth, especially with its advanced manufacturing industry and Caesars Virginia's plans for a casino at the former Dan River Inc. site in Schoolfield, to increase demand for his self-storage business.
"I believe that Danville will be a gateway to Southwest Virginia once the casino opens," Cherney said. "That will spur growth. We're just anticipating that growth."
Millennials and younger people are predisposed to living in urban areas, he said. The revitalization of downtown Danville with smaller living spaces will drive a need for self-storage of items including winter clothes, camping equipment, kayaking gear and other items, he said.
The commercial spaces will also accommodate the construction boom that's coming to Danville, Cherney said.
Plans at the former Kmart also include building an apron around the building for retail businesses, he said.
Cherney, who developed 14 self-storage facilities in Virginia and North Carolina, has 30 years of experience in the business. He likes to repurpose old commercial buildings and transform them, he said.
Cherney is also opening a 400-unit Fort Knox Drive-Thru Self Storage in Roanoke this month. He plans to relocate his company from Winston-Salem to Roanoke this year.