Muskego — A self-storage operation and a coffee shop will be built on the former Salentine Buick property, S66 W14444 Janesville Road.
The project received the approval of the Muskego Plan Commission last week and allowed Alex Simic, owner of Storage Master, to obtain a building permit from the city.
He said he has an accepted offer on the property that has been vacant since the iconic dealership closed in February 2013. Salentine was believed to be the city's oldest business in Muskego at the time it closed.
The dealership building will get a face-lift, and white fencing and arbor vitae will be added to screen the operation from neighbors and motorists. Simic said he wants the self-storage units open by Thanksgiving with outdoor boat storage available by October.
Muskego needs more self storage, based on industry standards, Simic said. The standards suggest Muskego could support about 2,400 storage units but only has about 400, he said. All four existing self storage facilities in the city are at full capacity.
The new storage units will be accessible to tenants from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
Simic also plans to create a coffee shop that he said will have the look and feel of an upscale Starbucks. He said he hopes it will become a community gathering place. Besides coffee, hot chocolate, bakery and what he calls light-bites, he will offer board games such as chess and Risk.
Dubbed Muskego Urban Gathering Place, MUG Place also will have three meeting rooms that can be rented to businesses and groups and for special occasions such as birthday parties.
"This will be a first for me," said Simic, who owns four other Storage Master facilities in New Berlin, Caledonia, Racine and Milwaukee. MUG Place will be an opportunity for him to give back to the community, he said.
Simic wants it to become part of the fabric of community life, and he hopes to bring in musicians and speakers. He also might have storytelling in the mornings for mothers and their toddlers; programs for senior citizens in the afternoon; youth activities after school; and family activities in the evenings.
MUG Place will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The Salentine dealership was active in the community, he said. "I think Storage Master will be as active."
"We want to make an impact," Simic said.
It was difficult for the Salentine family to close the business that had operated for 90 years, but they seemed pleased with the self-storage plan.
"They were at the plan committee meeting, and I saw a lot of smiles," Muskego Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti said.
She also noted that the development will improve the area and add value to the city.
"I think it's a good fit for the property," Chiaverotti said, "and he owns other similar facilities that he maintains very well."
A total of 325 indoor storage units and 186 outdoor parking spaces for boats, recreational vehicles and other storage needs will be created. Simic will also have indoor boat storage and a service that will take the boat out of the water, bring it to the storage facility and possibly winterize it or shrink wrap it.
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