The process of transforming the former Palace Mall into a multi-use building with storage units and existing business tenants will soon be underway.
Larry Jirsa, a Mitchell architect, provided a update on the plans and progress of the project during Monday’s Mitchell Planning Commission meeting at City Hall. As the architect for the project, Jirsa said the early stages will consist of demolition work -- primarily in the middle of the building and avoiding existing tenant spaces -- to make space for an estimated 500 storage units. In October, the commission approved the conditional use permit allowing the changes by a 3-2 vote.
The 151,044-square foot building was recently purchased by Mitchell Storage, LLC, a company owned by Mark Bigelow, of Idaho, Roman Daniels-Brown, of Washington, and Steven Bigelow, of Texas, who have had the property under contract since September. It had previously been listed for sale for $999,900, and was last valued by Davison County at $920,000.
“We will be tearing everything out on the inside that may be a wall or window, along with getting rid of all the carpet. We would like to begin as soon as possible,” Jirsa said. “Basically, they want a building with steel columns and just the structure, so there is a wide open space on the inside for the storage units. There will be a lot of demolition, and it will take a while to complete.”
For the spaces inside the 1801 N. Main St. building that are currently occupied by tenants, Jirsa said several will remain or have the option to relocate elsewhere inside the old mall, and the demolition work will take place around the occupied spaces. However, of the spaces in the building that are vacant, Jirsa said, the new owners intend to gut them and create more space.
Of the tenants that currently occupy a space, Jirsa said Family Dollar and New China Buffet will remain in their current locations. Mitchell Telecom will be moving its business just a few feet north inside the mall to the former office location of Navigant, but Jirsa said there is talk the telecommunication company may eventually move to a new location elsewhere in Mitchell. Mitchell Telecom is expected to relocate as early as February, Jirsa said.
In addition, a tax company will be moving into the building but it was unclear where exactly they will be located. Jirsa said the Norm’s and Mark’s Barbers, a local barber shop in the mall is considering moving to the old Thirsty’s Bar location in front of the building.
“The new construction will be pretty minimal, which will probably consist of cutting overhead doors somewhere in the building,” Jirsa said, noting the overhead doors would be installed for RVs, boats and vehicles. “There are two overhead doors as of now that are on the west side and south side. We’re going to take some ceilings out with bar joists being exposed to make the height to be 15 to 18 feet high.”
The storage units are expected to accommodate a broad range of needs and sizes, ranging from small 5-by-5 foot lockers to large 10-by-30 foot units. In addition, the plan is to install a large open area in the building to store RVs, boats, trailers and other large vehicles. According to Jirsa, there are roughly 20 vehicles being stored in the building as of now.
“There will be some exhaust systems installed for where the vehicles are stored,” Jirsa said. “They are talking about doing cages to store stuff in, which would have wire screen over the top of them.”
Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson joined the discussion and raised a concern regarding the water main that runs under the old Palace Mall. Everson said it’s a private water main, noting if it breaks the owner is responsible for fixing the water main. Everson informed Jirsa the water main broke last summer, which caused some structural damage following the incident.
“We’ll have to look at the codes to see what kind of toilet facilities we will need, but there are probably 50 toilets in the building,” Jirsa said. “But we may end up with about three or four.”
Once the facility is ready for operation, there will be a security system in place. Customers utilizing the building for storage units will have access codes to enter the facility, Jirsa said, adding the demolition will begin very soon. The design phase for the minimal construction work slated to take place down the road is expected to be complete by February.
“These guys (the new building owners) did one of these similar buildings down in Texas, and they did exactly the same thing to an old Kmart building,” Jirsa said. "We still have some things we need to look at such as the exhaust system."