Downtown Mitchell's former Woolworth building could be getting a $1.7 million facelift, developer pursues TIF

The TIF would help fund key first floor renovations, along with replacing the elevator and exterior tuckpointing. If approved, the TIF would John Adamo's second TIF to rehab an aging building

The former Woolworth building sits on the corner of Third Avenue and Main Street. The century-old building could soon be undergoing major renovations.
Sam Fosness / Republic

MITCHELL — A California developer who has bought downtown Mitchell buildings over the past few years is pursuing another Tax Increment Financing district to give a century-old building a facelift.

John Adamo, the California real estate developer who owns Mitchell Main Street property, cleared the first hurdle toward utilizing a TIF that would aid his plan to bring roughly $1.7 million worth of improvements to the 300 N. Main St. building that’s been a downtown fixture since 1910.

The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the TIF on Monday. The property was formerly known as the Woolworth building. Commission members Kevin Genzlinger and Larry Jirsa abstained from voting, citing conflict of interest.

“The Woolworth building has been a downtown mainstay forever. When I was reading this plan, I thought, ‘Wow, this sounds like a real good deal to happen,’” said Jay Larson, the chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The western wear store Merchandise Outlet is among the businesses occupying a portion of the first floor of the 300 N. Main St. building.
Republic file photo

According to Don Petersen, Adamo’s attorney, the TIF would support $527,257 of the rehabilitation project. Adamo was not in attendance at Monday’s meeting, but his contractor was present alongside Petersen.


Adamo’s plans entail remodeling the first floor into a mixture of commercial, retail and office spaces similar to the existing layout of the main floor. Petersen said the TIF would help fund most of the first floor renovations, along with replacing the elevator and exterior tuckpointing.

“The purpose of TIF No. 29 is to reconstruct and remodel a historic building consisting of three floors and a basement,” Petersen said, noting the elevator is in need of a total replacement for it to be functioning again. “He’s asking for a Tax Increment Financing district to help speed up the refurbishment of the Woolworth building.”

The second and third floors house apartments that are occupied by tenants. And the apartments would also undergo improvements as part of the project, Petersen explained.

Petersen said Adamo intends to retain the “historic attributes” of the 34,881-square-foot building.

City Planner Mark Jenniges said the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) will review the rehabilitation plans of the historic Main Street property and give a decision on whether it recommends the improvements. SHPO’s recommendation does not determine the outcome of the project’s approval to move forward. That decision will be made by the Mitchell City Council at a later date.

The Woolworth building TIF will create a funding source for the project that will come from the increase in property tax values from the new construction and improvements to the building. The increase in property taxes within the TIF boundaries — following completion of the remodeling — is referred to as the “tax increment,” which the city would pass on to the developer as it generates over a 20-year window.

As of now, the Third Avenue and Main Street property has a tax base value of $397,815. Petersen estimates the building improvements would add approximately $1.4 million to the city’s tax rolls, equating to roughly $27,750 per year in new taxes.

“$800,000 would be eligible for the TIF, and we’re asking for $527,257 toward those amounts. The balance of that will be self-funded by Mr. Adamo,” Petersen said. “That whole corner on Main Street will be getting a refacing and hopefully bring some older buildings back to life.”


According to Petersen, the renovations are estimated to be complete by summer 2024.

City Administrator Stephanie Ellwein pointed to the tuckpointing and elevator replacement portions of the rehabilitation plan as key components that will make the century-old building “viable for a long time.”

The council will determine the fate of Adamo’s new TIF when the application is brought in front of the eight-person governing body soon.

If approved, it would mark the second TIF Adamo has secured to revitalize a pair of aging downtown buildings. The first TIF to get approved was for the former Crafty Fox building, located at 223 N. Main St., which sits across the street from the Woolworth property.

The former Crafty Fox building at the corner of Third and Main Street, left, sits across from an empty lot in downtown Mitchell. Crews are working on remodeling the property.
Republic file photo

Although the TIF for the 223 N. Main St. building was approved two years ago, the remodeling work is still ongoing.

When the remodeling of the downtown building is complete and the neighboring lot across the street is fully developed into parking garages with a commercial building, project leaders say the improvements are estimated to boost the assessed tax valuation of the area in the TIF boundary to roughly $3.5 million, which currently has a tax base value of $45,070.

The latest update on the former Crafty Fox building was provided during a Nov. 14 Planning Commission meeting when Don Dahl, a contractor working for Adamo on the property, detailed plans of the 57-stall parking lot that was approved to be built in the vacant lot next to Einsteins which Adamo also owns. Though a timeline of the 223 N. Main St. remodeling project wasn’t detailed during the Nov. 14 Planning Commission meeting, Dahl said the project is progressing as planned.

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Designs of the parking lot show a handful of landscape features in the parking lot, including several trees and patches of green space.

The 223 N. Main St. building project is planned to renovate the 60 apartment units atop the property, along with remodeling the main floor into a mixture of commercial and retail space.

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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