The Roanoke County Board of Supervisors rejected a bid Tuesday night to bring a roughly 105,000-square-foot self-storage facility to the South Peak development.
On a 4-1 vote, the board denied a special-use permit sought by Venture Storage Group LLC, of North Carolina.
In individual remarks, supervisors expressed unease about the scale of the project — which would have occupied a prominent hillside perch — and questioned whether it served the original goals for that gateway development.
“I am not prepared to abandon those goals,” concluded Vinton District Supervisor Jason Peters, adding ultimately he felt the project was out of step with what the community has been hoping to create along that key corridor.
South Peak, a mixed-use development with more than 60 acres, sits on a highly visible slope overlooking the meeting point of Virginia 419 and U.S. 220 in southwest county. That busy gateway has been gaining growing attention through recent county initiatives like the Reimagine 419 study.
The proposal to add a three-story-tall storage business to South Peak’s front property spurred fresh debate about the vision for that development and what the best use was for one of its prime overlooks.
In prior rounds of talks about South Peak, stretching back nine years or more, officials said the hopes expressed for the project included a hotel, restaurants, new retail destinations, and upscale office space.
South Peak said it continues to court those uses. To date, the hotel has opened along with one restaurant, Texas Roadhouse. The residential side of the development is also moving forward.
But, representatives said, the project is also battling shifting market forces and has to adapt in order to continue making progress. Venture Storage submitted a proposal to invest more than $6.5 million in a modernized facility that South Peak supported as an attractive and complementary addition to its site.
In their deliberations, though, some supervisors said the sheer size of the building seemed overwhelming for that horizon.
Cave Spring District Supervisor George Assaid echoed comments from the planning commission that questioned whether the addition would further the goal of creating an appealing and harmonious community.
The planning commission, also by a 4-1 margin, had voted to recommend denial of the permit.
Windsor Hills District Supervisor David Radford, who voted in favor of the project, said he empathized with the hurdles that developments have faced since the Great Recession and he appreciated that Venture Storage had worked to bring a nicer aesthetic to the design of its project.
“I personally like the architecture of the building, and I think they can make it blend in,” he said.
Radford added that ushering in new tenants will help ensure that South Peak can continue to cover the debt payments on an infrastructure bond package that Roanoke County agreed to help facilitate for it in 2010.
The development, not the county, is responsible for generating the revenue to cover all annual bond payments.
In a short statement issued after Tuesday’s vote, South Peak representatives said they remain committed to the development and will continue to work to ensure the project’s success.