Future of former Happy's Flea Market decided with vote

The site could become a drive-thru self-storage facility

By Erin Brookshier - Virginia Today Reporter
Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved

ROANOKE, Va. - UPDATE

The special exception passed approval by the Board of Zoning Appeals on Wednesday evening. 

ORIGINAL STORY

A vote in Roanoke on Wednesday night could bring big changes to a now vacant area of Williamson Road. 

If approved, one of the biggest changes that Wednesday's decision by the Board of Zoning Appeals would kick into motion is creating a self-storage facility on the property where Happy’s Flea Market once stood. 

Years ago, the flea market drew consistent weekend crowds. Over the past decade, the building eventually fell into disrepair, closing several times because of roof and structural issues before the vendors were kicked out and the property went up for sale. For two years the building has sat vacant, until Jim Cherney with Cherney Development bought the property back in December for $950,000. 

A plan submitted to the Board of Zoning Appeals reveals that the building itself is structurally sound, and replacing the roof would allow him to take the next steps in creating the U-shaped self-storage facility that will bring life back to the now-vacant property. 

“All kinds of negative things can happen with a blighted piece of property,” says Wendy Jones, executive director of the Williamson Road Area Business Association. “Once it starts being active again, people are using it again and it regenerates the life. It’s positive for property values, is positive for the income of the area, it’s just a win-win all the way around. It’s more secure, the whole nine yards.”

Currently, the property is zoned for a commercial large site. To move forward with the self-storage project, the board will have to approve a special permit Wednesday. 

It’s a project the developer says would be a small traffic generator for the area, bringing in about 120 trips per day and about 11 trips per hour. While it’s not enough trips to create major traffic issues in the area, it’s enough that other local businesses could see a boost and customers once the center is complete. 

Jones says this self-storage center would be just the first step and changes on the 11-acre property. 

“It would be a multi-use property, which is a really positive thing. Between the spaces available on the south side, storage in the middle, out parcels, and a potential for the back lot, there’s over 11 acres there,” she says. “There’s a lot of possibilities for the property and all of it is being done with the residence behind it and the residence around it in mind.”

While no details are being released at this time, these are changes Jones says could bring a very positive feel to the area that she’s working to rebrand.

Instead of calling it the former Happy's Flea Market location, she’s pushing for a new name for the property - the 5411 Property. It’s a fresh name she and others in the area hope will not only bring a new feel, but also more business to the area. 

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