U-Haul about to breathe new life into Kmart plaza in Webster
What was once at Kmart store on Worcester Road in Webster has been taken over by U-Haul and will be put back into use as a moving and storage facility.
By Rod Lee
By all appearances the former Kmart plaza on Worcester Road in Webster has seen better days, with that department store long gone and the large space previously occupied by the Shaw’s supermarket to its left also sitting empty.
Another storefront was abandoned when Radio Shack closed up shop, making for a pretty forlorn sight at 74 Worcester Road despite the presence of a number of functioning businesses, including Sally Beauty Supply, Divine Nails & Hair Spa, The Vault, Family Dollar, Anytime Fitness and Webster Smiles.
All that is about to change, with U-Haul Moving & Storage taking over the old Kmart site with plans to add more than seven hundred fifty indoor climate-controlled storage units along with truck and trailer sharing and a retail showroom providing boxes, moving supplies, towing equipment and more according to Andrea Batchelor who is a public relations specialist with U-Haul International in Phoenix.
This is good news, Ann V. Morgan, director of planning and economic development for the town of Webster, told the Xpress.
The arrival of a U-Haul store “will definitely revitalize that plaza a little more,” Ms. Morgan said on September 27. “The parking lot is my biggest concern, if they want to use that for storage units. But what they’re planning to do to the exteri or of the building is exciting. We hope it sparkles when all is said and done. The ideal reuse would be commercial or retail but anything that breathes life into that plaza we’re pleased to see.”
All that remains is for U-Haul to get a final site-plan approval from the Planning Board, which is pending, Ms. Morgan said.
Ms. Batchelor indicated that U-Haul is aiming for an October opening.
The former Shaw’s space remains available and is being marketed by Keypoint Partners of Burlington. Ms. Morgan is not aware of any plans for that location but says “I hear stuff all over the place. I get calls all the time. I do know that a delivery service person is going to be opening two doors down from The Vault.”
U-Haul is thrilled with the opportunity to set up operations in Webster.
“We’re investing in Webster and we look forward to serving customers in this community for years to come,” Jerry Ouellette, who heads up the U-Haul Company of Western Mass. and Vermont, said. “There is a need for our climate-controlled storage options in Webster. We are excited to meet that need and be a leading self-storage provider in this market.”
U-Haul portable storage containers, professional hitch installation and propane will also be available on the store’s 9.5-acre lot in the future.
Acquisition of the property was driven by U-Haul corporate sustainability initiatives, Mr. Ouellette said. He said that U-Haul supports infill developments to help local communities lower their carbon footprint. The adaptive reuse of existing buildings reduces the amount of energy and resources required for new-building materials and helps cities and towns reduce their unwanted inventory of unused buildings.
“U-Haul has been repurposing old buildings for decades in order to eliminate blight and benefit the communities we serve,” Mr. Ouellette said. “We’re pleased to showcase our sustainability model in Webster. Our goal is to provide residents with the best moving services and a clean, dry and secure facility where they will want to store their belongings.”
Mr. Ouellette said U-Haul plans to employ at least twelve team members once the Worcester Road store is fully operational. U-Haul will look to hire locally to support job growth in the Webster community. U-Haul was recently honored as a “Best for Vets 2020” leading veteran-friendly employer by The Military Times and actively recruits former service personnel and gives them preference in the hiring process.
Mr. Ouellette points out that U-Haul has continued to serve communities during the COVID-19 recovery by offering contactless business programs and enhanced cleaning protocols, including added steps for sanitizing equipment between customer transactions.
U-Haul products are used daily by first responders, delivery companies bringing needed supplies to people’s homes, small businesses trying to remain afloat, college students and many other dependent individuals and organizations, in addition to the do-it-yourself mover.
Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.