U-Haul Moving & Storage plans to open a new location next week at 3250 Clear Lake Ave. in the space formerly occupied by Springfield’s last remaining Kmart store. Aaron Freeman, president of U-Haul Company of Illinois, said he’s glad for the opportunity to expand his business by reusing an existing building.

“It’s infill development on an existing location that would typically be vacant for some time,” Freeman said. “That helps meet our sustainability initiative.”

Freeman noted that while U-Haul also constructs many new buildings across the country in underserved markets, there are quite a few box stores sitting empty due to the trend toward online shopping.  “How can we lower our footprint on the earth?” he asked, explaining that it makes sense to reuse those spaces whenever possible.

U-Haul purchased the 12-acre Clear Lake property for $5.5 million, according to Sangamon County records. Nationwide, U-Haul International’s real estate arm paid $62 million to purchase 13 properties from Sears, Kmart’s parent company, according to Spare Foot Storage Beat, which reports on the self-storage industry. Springfield and Rockford are the only two Illinois locations on the list.

Freeman said that the existing headquarters at 1032 Stevenson Dr. and a satellite location on Bruns Lane will both remain open, in addition to the new Clear Lake facility.

“We were outgrowing the Stevenson location, especially given the 11th street expansion,” Freeman said.  “That location was built 30 years ago, and there’s not a lot of room to work with the at existing site.”

Freeman explained that most U-Haul customers come from within a three-mile radius, so the Clear Lake location should help attract new customers as well as expand the retail offerings such as moving supplies and cargo management. While renovations to the former Kmart building are still underway, he hopes to have a temporary showroom operational as early as next week.

“We look forward to going in there, revitalizing the location and offering a service to the community.”