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Empty lot faces storage makeover

A large empty lot on Bellerose Drive will see construction later this year. Ben Battjes, development manager for Houle Properties Inc.
Ben Battjes
Ben Battjes

A large empty lot on Bellerose Drive will see construction later this year.

Ben Battjes, development manager for Houle Properties Inc., told a room of residents on Wednesday that the property would house commercial businesses, as well as mini, indoor and outdoor storage units.

“This site is really unique, it’s really a legacy site in St. Albert,” he said.

23 Bellerose Drive was previously home to Standard General’s construction yard prior to being purchased by Houle Properties Inc. The company will begin building mini storage units in the fall towards the back of the lot.

Battjes noted that a pre-feasibility study determined St. Albert is a prime location to build more storage units.

“One of the largest groups of self-storage users is multi-families, and there’s a lot of that happening in St. Albert,” he explained.

Battjes said if the demand was high, a multi-storey storage facility could be developed in the next 10 to 15 years.

He added that the front part of the property closest to the exit would be sub-divided for commercial businesses.

Finlay Campbell, a resident whose home borders the newly purchased property, said he was concerned over security and whether people could access his backyard from the property.

“I would like to see a fence there that you build to keep people out from coming into my yard, rather than the other way around,” Campbell said.

He suggested having a buffer zone between the fence on his property and 23 Bellerose Drive. The two walls would also keep out noise and light from his backyard.

However, Lenore Mitchell, senior planner for Planning and Development in St. Albert, said that has caused issues in the past.

“Fencing would have to be looked at. We are now running into problems with that double-fencing, because it’s creating a ‘no man’s land’ and homeless people are now collecting in the area,” she told to Campbell.

“I don’t know if we would repeat that type of situation.”

She said areas, such as behind Value Village, have been cleaned out since then.

Residents were also concerned about light spilling into their backyards.

Battjes said the company is looking to install dark sky lights, a type of light that doesn’t spread light pollution.

“They’re specifically designed to prevent light from shining everywhere,” he said.

There are still a few kinks to be worked out on the construction of the site. Battjes said a there’s currently only one exit on the lot, which has made them rethink how to develop the back corner of the property.

“So when you look at high-traffic uses like residential or commercial, you can rule those out because people coming from that access is just not as feasible as having multiple access points,” he says.

That, combined with the back corner being away from the main road, is what prompted the idea to go with a storage site.

Dave Pollitt and his wife, Rose, attended the public hearing to find out more about the construction.

Pollitt said anything is better than what’s currently sitting right in front of their backyard.

“Standard General stored their equipment there and it’s been empty back there for a year or two,” he said.

There’s currently a line of trees, which separate residents from the property. If the trees fall within the property owned by Houle Properties Inc., they said they’d work to maintain them.

He told residents that he’s aiming to come before council in late August for approval to start building in the fall.

If all goes well, storage units could be open in spring to mid-summer next year.

Dayla Lahring

About the Author: Dayla Lahring

Dayla Lahring joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2017. She writes about business, health, general news and features. She also contributes photographs.
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