MILTON — After sitting empty for a year, the old Kmart on Highway 90 will once again see the hustle of customers with the new U-Haul Self Storage moving in. The new business will share a parking lot with the new Santa Rosa School District Administration Building, which was renovated in the connecting Food World last year.

Chad Rome, president of U-Haul Company of South Alabama, said he was every excited to have his first company owned and operated U-Haul facility in Milton.

"Milton is growing rapidly and has seen a population increase of 20-30 percent," Rome said. "We see customers packing up their U-Haul trucks and moving to this area from Pensacola so we need to expand our services and serve the needs of customers here."

Currently, Rome said they are operating out of a temporary showroom, offering U-Haul truck and trailer rentals. He said the new building will feature moving supplies and other retail items soon.

Rome said the acquisition of the Kmart building was driven by the their commitment to the environment. He said they were eager to reuse the building and save the energy and resources that would be required for building a new store. Their plan is to hire at least 15 employees from the local community, which would support the job growth within Milton, he said.

"Adaptive reuse of the building will render indoor self-storage rooms with high-tech security features and affordable price points," he said. "We will also offer professional hitch installation, propane and more. This will be a full-service U-Haul facility."

City of Milton Zoning Officer Tim Milstead said the company, which lies just inside the city limits, had applied for its city business license and was making the necessary steps to proceed with opening. Milstead said the company would be making renovations to the inside of the building and would be having limited operations until they were fully prepared to operate in the building, which would take about a year.