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For new mayor, Corn Palace Plaza growth remains long-term goal

With the days and months numbered for the Jitters building in downtown Mitchell and a new mayor in place, ideas are starting to build for a possible Corn Palace Plaza expansion.

The city of Mitchell plans to tear down the Jitters building (located in the foreground) in the 500 block of North Main Street later this year. (Matt Gade / Republic)
The city of Mitchell plans to tear down the Jitters building (located in the foreground) in the 500 block of North Main Street later this year. (Matt Gade / Republic)

With the days and months numbered for the Jitters building in downtown Mitchell and a new mayor in place, ideas are starting to build for a possible Corn Palace Plaza expansion.

Bob Everson, who was sworn in as the city's mayor earlier this month, said the project has plans that are mostly on the back burner for the city.

"It will open up (the area) near the Corn Palace, that's for sure," he said. "We have the NorthWestern building, and we'll have to see what happens there. A lot of thoughts have gone into this and I think it will make for some nice space in the future there."

The newly built plaza south of the Corn Palace has been a popular area for visitors and Mitchell residents alike, as the Mitchell Farmers Market has moved to the location and a number of community events have been held at the outdoor space. The relatively new plaza was finished in late 2017 with new signage facing Main Street and a large grassy area filling in the space directly south of the Corn Palace, where Sixth Avenue previously ran past the building. Previous plans have called for a large shade structure and a stage.

Everson said he's seen plans for a possible expansion, but those remain quite far ahead in the future. He said the focus will be on the remediation of the asbestos in the Jitters building and getting that building torn down.

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"We really can't do anything until we get the building torn down, and so that's our focus," he said. "And it's something that can be done later in the year, if necessary."

The city has already noted that it won't tear down the building at 512 N. Main St. until after Dakota Wesleyan University has its Blue and White Days homecoming parade on Oct. 13. The Mitchell City Council approved work Monday for asbestos remediation in the coming weeks.

City Council President Steve Rice said he wants to see what the area looks like with the Jitters building down before making any big commitments.

"To sort of know what that view looks like, that might benefit everyone in how we want to plan it out," he said.

He'd like to see the design of a possible plaza expansion align with the much-discussed Main Street improvements through the Business Improvement District. The BID will tax commercial property owners along Main Street to help fund upgrades to the appearance of the historic downtown district.

"We'll have to see what amount of money is available and what we have and see if we're going to make improvements an intersection at a time or a block a time," Rice said. "To see how that evolves, I think will be important to the project."

Rice said there are a few other factors in play, as well. There are still a few power poles standing in the middle of that block, and he'd like to see how the area might be different without those in the way. And he noted that the city owns the former NorthWestern Energy building at 514 N. Main.

"It's built like a vault. It's a very solid building," Rice said. "Could something be done with it? I don't know. I don't know the level of interest the city has in it."

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Everson noted he'd like to keep the plans close to the vest for now, but said the success of the current outdoor space is promising for the future.

"It seems to be received quite well by visitors to the city, as well as residents of the city of Mitchell. There's a lot of use going on there," Everson said. "The overall master plan there, I think will have people pleased. ... Once the (Jitters) building comes down, I'm sure you'll start hearing and seeing things take place."

Related Topics: CORN PALACE
Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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