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Green acres: It is the place to be for city's proposed arena?

The Mitchell events center task force is trying to determine if "green acres" really is the place to be. Task force members are weighing the costs of locating on a "green acre" site -- such as along the state Route 37 bypass -- versus a downtown ...

The Mitchell events center task force is trying to determine if "green acres" really is the place to be.

Task force members are weighing the costs of locating on a "green acre" site -- such as along the state Route 37 bypass -- versus a downtown site.

"The infrastructure on a green acres site is a lot more, and the land cost downtown is a lot more," task force member Jim Johnston said this week. "What we have to do in the end is weigh those two things. If one is astronomically higher than the other, that may sway the decision."

Johnston said rough numbers are being compiled and may be ready to report to the City Council at its public meeting Monday evening. The proposed events center, still under design, would consist of an athletic arena with extra floor space for events such as the state pool and dart tournaments.

Chuck Mauszycki Sr., the owner of the green acre site along the bypass, disputes the claim that infrastructure costs would be significantly more there.

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"I very much disagree with the term 'a lot more,' " Mauszycki said. "I define that as hundreds of thousands of dollars more, and it's not that."

Differing viewpoints

The task force is considering six potential events center locations. So far, Mauszycki is the only affected landowner to publicly lobby for his site.

Mauszycki wants the events center built along the west side of the state Route 37 bypass, on a 20-acre parcel in his 160-acre Westwood Addition. Two or three of the 20 acres would be used for the building, and the rest would be used for a parking lot. He wants to give the 20-acre parcel to the city, in exchange for the city doing some street and drainage work in the development.

Mauszycki said his vast tract of undeveloped land has plenty of space for parking, the events center and any other businesses that might pop up around it.

"It's all about acreage," he said this week. "That's my quick summary."

Johnston said other factors should be considered in choosing a site, such as the boost to the Corn Palace and the area around it that a carefully designed events center could spark.

Johnston said an architectural firm working with the task force thinks parking could be managed downtown, and traffic might be dispersed more quickly in the downtown grid than in a large parking lot with only a few exits. Johnston acknowledged, though, that at least some additional parking will have to be found.

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"We have known since day one that if you put it downtown that means you have to buy additional property to handle parking," Johnston said.

Mauszycki said he has yet to see any evidence that adequate parking could be provided downtown.

"The math is just absurd," he said.

By requirement of the city's own ordinance, new sports arenas, auditoriums, stadiums or theaters must have one off-street parking space for every four seats in the building.

The early concept proposed for the events center included 7,092 seats, which would require 1,773 parking spaces. Currently, according to a city count, there are about 560 public off-street parking spaces in the vicinity of the Corn Palace.

Mauszycki said more parking spaces would be needed than the city code requires, and his site plan along the bypass includes spaces for 2,700 vehicles. Even if parking could be found downtown, he said, it would hurt some downtown businesses because customers would have to park blocks away during events at the new events center.

"I think we have a huge parking issue downtown, and that's why I made the offer that I think is correct for the city," Mauszycki said. "Because we absolutely have to have room to do this."

Other green acre sites

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Two of the other sites under consideration by the task force also are on large, undeveloped acreages, but they are not surrounded by as much open land as the Mauszycki site.

Just to the south of the Mauszycki site, and on the other side of the bypass, is the 25-acre parcel of land that lies immediately west of Mitchell Middle School. There would be no acquisition cost for the site, because it already is owned by the city, but one task force member said the site could require a substantial amount of dirtwork.

South of Interstate 90 and west of Cabela's is the 33.23-acre parcel of undeveloped land owned by Silverado Buda Development of Provo, Utah. The development company acquired the site two years ago from Cabela's for $1.5 million.

Econofoods site

The other three sites under consideration are all downtown and are each roughly one block, or around two acres, in size.

One of the downtown sites is the vacant former Econofoods grocery store, which would have to be purchased and possibly demolished. The former store's building and parking lot cover the entire 800 block on the west side of North Main Street.

The Econofoods property is owned by Sunshine Food Markets Inc. of Sioux Falls. The property is listed for sale on the Internet for $1.575 million.

North of the Corn Palace

Another downtown site is within the long rectangular block north of the Corn Palace. The city already owns two parking lots in the block, but there are several properties that would potentially have to be purchased and demolished to make way for an events center, even though those properties are not currently listed for sale.

They include:

* The Graham Tire Co. building and land at 720 N. Main Street, and the shed behind it, owned by the Thomas W. Graham Revocable Trust of Sioux Falls and valued for tax purposes at $233,470.

* The TMA Tire Muffler Alignment building and land at 806 N. Main St., and the three long, rectangular storage buildings behind it, owned by Jose Rincones of Mitchell and valued for tax purposes at $249,205.

* The Lawler Automotive and Tri M Tunes and Glass building and land at 801 N. Lawler St., owned by Scott W. Maeschen of Mitchell and valued for tax purposes at $132,850.

Task force members say the Pepsi Cola Theatre for the Performing Arts at 700 N. Main St. could be left in place. Three other properties at the north end of the block would not necessarily have to be acquired, but could be advantageous to the project and are not being ruled out:

* The Plaza Cleaners and Laundromat building and land at 822 N. Main St., owned by Steven G. Feeldy of Mitchell and valued for tax purposes at $78,660.

* The Napa Auto Parts building and land at 816 N. Main St., owned by Duane B. and Lois L. Farnam of Huron and valued for tax purposes at $78,275.

* A house and land at 821 N. Lawler St. owned by Charlene Ann Arbach of Mitchell and valued for tax purposes at $100,160.

South of the Corn Palace

The other downtown events center site is the block directly south of the Corn Palace. The properties that may have to be demolished there include the following:

* The Score Board Bar and Grille building and land at 522 N. Main St., which are owned by the Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce and valued for tax purposes at $123,830.

* The NorthWestern Energy building at 514 N. Main St., and the land and rear parking lot, owned by the Virginia Dugan Rozum Trust of Mitchell and valued for tax purposes at $153,340.

* The Jitters coffeehouse building and land at 512 N. Main St., owned by Randolph Bryan of Inver Grove Heights, Minn., and valued for tax purposes at $32,290.

* The Statuary building and land at 500 N. Main St., valued for tax purposes at $63,835 and recently acquired by the Mitchell Area Development Corporation in a three-way deal that included $225,000 supplied by the City Council.

The Masonic Lodge at 112 E. Fifth Ave. could be left in place, according to task force members.

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