Big things are coming to Mitchell’s Main Street.
That’s according to Mark Vaux, executive director of the Mitchell Area Development Corporation (MADC) and Chamber of Commerce, who held a press conference Thursday at the Mitchell Chamber of Commerce meeting room. There, the MADC said the dilapidated 301 N. Main St. building and the neighboring Moody’s Western Wear building are in the process of being transferred over to the MADC.
“There are some really great things happening to Main Street, and I’m excited to share with you that the MADC will soon take ownership of two buildings on Main Street in order to pursue development opportunities,” Vaux said Thursday. “This is a tremendous opportunity for our community, as Third and Main has been problematic for quite some time.”
The breakthrough with Skip and Diane Moody, the property owners of Moody’s Western Wear, which neighbors the 301 N. Main St. building, comes after the Mitchell City Council entered into a special meeting on Aug. 9 at City Hall, where the council unanimously approved a settlement agreement that paved the way for the city to bulldoze David Finnell’s 110-year-old structure.
As part of the agreement, the city had the option to pursue two scenarios; demolishing Finnell’s 301 N. Main St. building at an estimated cost of roughly $570,000, or demolishing all of the buildings on the corner of Third Avenue and Main Street -- which would include Moody's Western Wear -- at a much cheaper cost of $179,000.
“Based on contractual quotes, removing both buildings is far more sound financially than attempting to take down the Finnell building to preserve the integrity of the Moody building,” Vaux said.
During the special meeting, Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson said the city’s preferred option was demolishing both buildings (Moody’s and Finnell’s), which would be more cost effective for the city. However, that would require the city to take ownership of the Moody’s 305 N. Main St. building in order to demolish both structures at a cheaper price than solely bulldozing Finnell’s property.
At that time, the city was unable to come to an agreement with the Moody’s in purchasing the 305 N. Main St. building. Since then, the MADC was able to solidify an agreement with the Moody’s in purchasing the old building they owned for the past 17 years.
“The Moodys have been very good to work with, and the Moodys plan to vacate the property and relocate their business, which they will soon announce publicly,” Vaux said Thursday. “We’re now bringing a tremendous resolution to improve the overall face of Main Street, along with assisting business owners to improve Main Street.”
The corroding 301 N. Main St. property, which has a gaping hole in the side of the building, has caused the street closure of a portion of Third Avenue for two years now.
Vaux provided a rough timeline for the future of both properties on the corner of Third Avenue and Main Street, in which he said is moving along swiftly. After the two buildings are razed, Vaux anticipates the portion of the Third Avenue street closure will be open by Thanksgiving of this year.
“There has to be a historical review of both properties, and once the final approval has been granted by the City Council and the Moody’s have the opportunity to finish up their plans for the future,” Vaux said, noting the historical review will begin Friday.
As for the immediate future of what the MADC will do to develop the corner of Third Avenue and Main Street properties, Vaux said the MADC is exploring all options.
Vaux pitched several ideas for the future plans of the Third Avenue and Main Street property once the buildings are razed, which included retail space, a hotel, apartments and condos.
“There are lots of possibilities, and I have been contacted by one interested local party who is interested in the redevelopment of that property,” Vaux said of the Third Avenue and Main Street property. “I’m not able to inform the public on those details (right now), but that’s exciting as well.”
In addition to the breakthrough on Third Avenue and Main Street, the MADC recently sold the 701 N. Main St. property, which was the former location of a Casey’s General Store. The empty lot was sold to JDoerr Properties, LLC at a price of $900.80 during Friday's special council meeting. On Wednesday, the Mitchell-based clothing boutique business Haven and Bloom said it will transform the corner lot into a boutique business space.
And at Monday's Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, the panel approved the property owner's quest to rehabilitate the 401 N. Main St. building into a modern office and retail space.
Vaux, who took over in fall 2018 as the city's new development and chamber director, said revitalizing Mitchell's aging Main Street has been one of his greatest challenges but spoke about its potential rewards.
“As you know Mitchell Main Street is the heart of our community, where hundreds of thousands of tourists travel that street every year are coming and going to the Corn Palace. And by taking ownership of these buildings, we can offer a cost savings and effective solution to an area that’s been a problem for a long time,” Vaux said. “The face of Main Street is changing. This is a really exciting time for Mitchell’s Main Street.”