U-Haul, the Phoenix-based moving and storage company, has bought the former Kmart buildings in Idaho Falls and Ammon to convert into the company’s largest climate-controlled self storage centers in Idaho.
The Ammon sale closed August 15 for an undisclosed price and the Idaho Falls sale is expected to close by the end of August, though U-Haul has already been operating in the building under a lease for a month.
The Idaho Falls buildings are are the first Kmart buildings U-Haul has bought in Idaho, but the company is seeking to buy more and also looking at vacant Walmarts or other large structures, said Casey Jones, U-Haul’s market company president in Idaho.
“We’re interested in any large-space building,” Jones said.
U-Haul is buying up vacant Kmarts across the country, with several properties bought over the past year.
The 103,997 square-foot Ammon facility will have about 800 storage units and the Idaho Falls facility will have 700 units. It has not been determined when the units will be built, but U-Haul already has mobile storage containers in Idaho Falls, and Jones said he expects to be open in Ammon for customers with equipment rentals and mobile storage container on Aug. 20.
U-Haul recently opened a 400-unit storage center on Orchard Road in Boise. The company has other Idaho storage facilities in Garden City, Nampa, Twin Falls and Pocatello.
The Kmart acquisitions across the country are driven by U-Haul corporate sustainability initiatives. The company is embracing adaptive reuse of existing buildings, U-Haul said in news releases.
“This helps cities reduce their unwanted inventory of unused buildings,” news releases read.
The former Kmart in Idaho Falls was an Ernst Home Center until closing in 1996. It hasn’t had a permanent tenant since then. The building has had RV sales, furniture sales, concerts and other seasonal events over the years, said Brent Wilson, a Thornton Oliver Keller broker based in Idaho Falls.
The Kmart in Ammon closed in February.
Wilson said U-Haul first approached him three years ago about the Idaho Falls store but then backed away. He reached out again three months again and U-Haul bit on both buildings in the neighboring eastern Idaho cities.
Wilson is pleased to find a non-retail tenant, as he said the Idaho Falls metro area has abundant retail.
“We just converted obsolete retail space to more productive use in line with our current economy,” Wilson said.