BELOIT—The Beloit City Council on Monday approved a conditional use permit tied to the redevelopment of the former Shopko building into a large, self-storage facility.

Monday marked the council’s first in-person meeting since early March of 2020, and also the final meeting in which Regina Dunkin presided as council president. On Tuesday, the council will reorganize and Dunkin has previously served two terms as council president.

Dunkin thanked city staff and spoke directly to Beloit residents during her final report as president. Dunkin was appointed president two years ago and was the first Black woman to serve as president in the city’s history.

“Because of each of you I have been able to make a difference,” Dunkin said. “I truly hope my service will empower and encourage others to know that if I can do it, they can do it. It truly takes a village. Let’s join as one community and choose to spread love.”

The council’s unanimous approval for Miami, Florida-based Larkspur Acquisitions paves the way for future construction of indoor self-storage facilities at the 8.6-acre property at 2762 Prairie Ave.

The former Shopko building will redeveloped to create “a variety of indoor self-service storage options with an office and potentially drive-in access for ease of loading and unloading,” according to project documents filed with the City of Beloit.

Larkspur Acquisitions CEO David Bernstein, who appeared at Monday’s meeting, said he the company was “very excited to do this project.”

“We’ve spent a lot of time on the design and hopefully when it’s complete the city is very happy with what we’ve done,” Bernstein said.

Construction is expected to start in August and be completed in August of 2022.

The project drew strong public outcry when it was first announced, but no public comments were made at Monday’s meeting.

Dunkin cited the city’s limited ability to guide development over privately-owned properties.

“The council cannot deny an application without substantial evidence,” Dunkin said. “We’ve heard questions on why this couldn’t be a grocery story or new retail. The short answer is the city does not own the property and has limited ability to influence its future use. This is why I support this conditional use permit.”

Councilor Brittany Keyes said the project would increase property values in the area over the property remaining vacant.

Shopko closed in May of 2019 after the company filed for bankruptcy protection in February of 2019.

In COVID-19 news, the council approved a resolution to amend the city’s safety requirements to update language to match new CDC guidelines related to physical distancing and clarifies ordinance language related to the Beloit’s citywide mask requirement that remains in place.

City-owned facilities require groups and organizations to draft a safety plan for larger events.

In other business, the council approved a proclamation recognizing Thursday, April 22 as Stand Against Racism Day. A virtual event will be held by YWCA of Rock County with the theme “Racism is a Public Health Crisis.”

The event will premiere on the YWCA Facebook page at noon on Thursday. The Rock County Board of Supervisors and Janesville City Council also took action recently to recognize the Stand Against Racism pledge.