New store would be located in former Churchill Market building
PRESCOTT – Casey and Kayla Waltz, who own Waltz Ace Hardware in Ellsworth are planning a second location in Prescott in the building that housed Churchill Market for many years.
Churchill Market closed in the spring and sold its licenses to sell beer and wine to Kwik Trip, which opened in Prescott in August across the street. The Churchill site is located at 1003 Campbell St., just north of the Prescott Post Office.
The building will be renovated and expanded by 4,500-square-feet to accommodate the Ace Hardware on the .6-acre site. The addition will be put on the back of the building, according to plans presented to the city that were reviewed by the plan commission Monday, Dec. 5.
Despite concerns that the building would lack required parking, plan commissioners gave their stamp of approval to a preliminary site plan for the project.
The Churchill building was “non-conforming” to current zoning in the city, and city planner Carter Hayes said that with the addition to the building means it will have to meet current zoning regulations.
“A proposed addition to the structure will require it to adhere by current zoning code standards,” he said.
The biggest hurdle is parking. The site allows for just 21 spaces, while zoning code requires 56.
“The proposed Ace Hardware does not meet the zoning code requirements for minimum off-street parking,” Hayes wrote in a memo to planners. “Due to the nonconforming nature of site and structure, the site has an inability to host 56 spaces.”
Attempts were made for a parking agreement with the professional building to the north, but Hayes noted “negotiations failed.”
Hayes did point out that many commercial establishments in Prescott do not meet the off-street parking minimums. Kwik Trip is at 65 percent, Dollar General is at 66 percent and Tractor Supply is at 57 percent.
“The city is concerned with the addition and expansion of a business without the expansion of parking capacity. It is feared that an approval without necessary parking could result in illegal parking usage on the street and in nearby businesses lots causing excess congestion in the area and potential safety hazards on the street,” Hayes wrote.
Casey and Kayla Waltz, new Prescott residents, attended the hearing and said parking won’t be an issue. They said their Ellsworth store probably has eight cars in the lot at peak times.
She said the Prescott location would be a full-service hardware store that will help Prescott residents shop local when they’re in the middle of a project. It will have hardware items like nuts and bolts – “Things you just really can’t find in this area,” Kayla said – as well as paint, tools and salt.
“In Ellsworth, we have a lot of business- to-business account customers, so we can keep those people here and not have them go to Hastings or River Falls,” she said.
With Tractor Supply in Prescott, the Prescott Ace wouldn’t have limited farm products.
“We want to offer what the community needs,” Kayla Waltz said.
Casey Waltz added, “We’ve reached out to some businesses downtown. Everybody says it would be so nice to go to a spot and get everything you need right there.”
On the parking situation, Kayla Waltz said, “The issue is parking. We do not feel it’s an issue. It’s an entirely doable situation.”
The building will be leased from the former Churchill ownership, which is investing in the building expansion.
“I think it’s a no-brainer,” David Packard said. “It’s very positive for the city. I’ve been in River Falls at the Ace Hardware there. The most cars I’ve seen there is eight on a Saturday morning. This is a very good thing for the community, and I think it’s important that we get it done.”
City Administrator Matt Wolf noted that the city is in the midst of a review of its ordinances and the parking requirement one could be adjusted in the future, since the city requirements seem high for the retail operations.