U-Haul ribbon cutting

The new U-Haul location in Chippewa Falls takes over the old Kmart location after five years of vacancy.

A new business is now calling a long-vacant building home.

The Kmart located at 409 E. Prairie View Road in Chippewa Falls has been closed since May 2014, and no business has taken over the large structure until this week.

U-Haul, a national moving and storage company, has bought and taken over the location. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Tuesday afternoon at the new U-Haul location, ending a year-and-a-half long planning and construction process to move the business into its new home.

Paul Zillmer, former manager of the Eau Claire U-Haul location and owner of the new Chippewa Falls location, said the decision to open a new corporate spot in the city came from noticing a need not being fulfilled previously.

“We are hoping to give customers ease of mind by having them store their belongings here,” Zillmer said. “It can be a place they can store things long-term or just during moving and remodels. It was a need the community had, in my opinion, and we’re glad to be here.”

The new U-Haul has 688 storage units, 678 of which are inside and feature a mix of heated and climate-controlled units. Thirty percent of those units are filled.

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In addition to providing storage opportunities both short- and long-term for Chippewa Valley residents, the location offers truck and trailer rentals for moving, installs hitches on vehicles, sells moving supplies and diagnoses wiring on vehicles to ensure safety while moving for customers.

Chippewa Falls Mayor Greg Hoffman, who lives near the new U-Haul location, said the new business is going to be a tremendous asset to the community and shows the company’s commitment to the area.

“I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in this from the beginning, and this has really turned out outstanding,” Hoffman said. “I live a few blocks away, and we as a neighborhood were concerned that this building was not going to be filled. We were very glad that U-Haul came around and make a very significant investment in Chippewa Falls, and it’s a beautiful asset to the community.”

Going forward, Zillmer said plans to expand the business are continuing, but for now he and his employees are grateful to be in business in Chippewa Falls.

“We’re glad to be here to help people during their stressful time of moving,” Zillmer said. “We’re planning on adding additional exterior units to help more and continue serving this great community of Chippewa Falls.”

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