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Pawn Chain Wants Old BP Site

The Zoning and Planning Commission recommended denial of a rezoning request that would bar pawnshops.

A pawn chain wants to transform the old BP property on Blake Road into a pawnshop.

Mark Smith, CEO of maX It Pawn, asked Zoning and Planning Commission members Tuesday to put the brakes on a zoning change that would prohibit a pawnshop on the property, located at the intersection of Blake Road and Highway 7. The new zoning designation, intended to better complement the adjacent residential neighborhood, would also bar other types of businesses that have been most attracted to the site.

Although the site has been empty for a while, Smith said the bank has expedited foreclosure proceedings and that he’s “ready, willing and able” to renovate the building, remove the gas-storage tanks and set up a new location on the site.

“I’d pull that permit tomorrow if I could,” he said. “I’ve done the demographics, and it’d be a great spot for me.”

There are 11 existing maX It Pawn stores, four more under construction and eight in the early planning stages, Smith said. The stores don't sell guns or pornography.

The BP site Smith wants to buy has proven particularly difficult to redevelop. Smith said there are problems tied to a current owner who can't be found. Other businesses have looked at the site—mostly restaurants and fast food eateries attracted to the high traffic counts on the busy thoroughfare, said City Planner Nancy Anderson.

Tuesday’s discussion wasn’t officially about the pawnshop, but instead focused on the type of use that best fits the city’s vision. Anderson recalled how some advocated keeping the Cargill site industrial. But even though there was perceived industrial demand, the council had an idea of what it wanted for the property and stuck with it.

In the end, commissioners thought the BP site was much more closely entwined with businesses in the corridor, including a right across the street and on a nearby corner.

“I think it’s a great business location,” said Commissioner Tom Jenny.

The board unanimously recommended that City Council reject the rezoning proposal.

Because of the scope of the remodeling he envisions, Smith still needs a city permit before starting business on the site.

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