Environmentally-controlled storage units are a demand in Ottawa, a former economic development leader said.

Tom and Mary Weigand have plans to convert the office and apartment space at 419 S. Main St. into about 40 indoor mini storage units that vary in size.

“We’ve got people going out of town to Olathe and Lawrence for environmentally-controlled storage for their records and furniture and such,” Weigand said at an Ottawa Planning Commission meeting Wednesday night. “We feel very positive that this is going to be good use of that building as well as good for Ottawa and the community.”

The Ottawa Planning Commission voted to recommend the conditional use permit receive further consideration from the City Commission, after members heard a Community Development Department staff’s presentation followed by public comments.

City staff said even though storage is not consistent with the intent of the Central Business District zone, the lot could still produce economic benefit to the property owner and community until a better use is found for the site, Sarah Anzicek, Ottawa city planner, said Wednesday. The findings indicate the use could bring in pedestrian and vehicular traffic to downtown.

City staff considered 11 factors before making a recommendation, Anzicek said, including finding that the use would not cause undue burden on transportation, utility and service facilities.

Her summary shows the 7,500-square-foot building has not experienced full use since it was occupied with retail in October 2013. Weigand said restaurants, churches and body shops have passed up the property in the years they have been owners.

“We’ve tried to come up with something that made some economic sense and was good for Ottawa,” Weigand said.

Weigand said he knows of an experienced builder. He said he would first experiment with 20 units, ranging from 5-by-5, 10-by-10 and 10-by-20 feet, before filling the space with up to 41 units.

The storage facility’s hours are expected to be compatible with other downtown businesses, according to plans.

E-Vape Shop 2, on the lot’s north side at 415 S. Main St., closes at 8 p.m. Lincare, a medical supplies supplier, is located on the lot’s south side at 425 S. Main St.

No changes are proposed for the exterior, including the parking pad in front, Anzicek said.

“This is only one of two lots in the entire downtown that have this configuration, where the building doesn’t line up with the other and there’s paving in front of it,” Anzicek said.

A letter written by downtown building owner Robert Dotson was read aloud at the meeting, relaying his support for the proposed venture.

The proposal is expected to go before the Ottawa City Commission for further conversation and approval or disapproval. It has not been scheduled on an agenda yet.

Amelia Arvesen is a Herald staff writer. Email her at aarvesen@ottawaherald.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AmeliaArvesen.