Palace Mall one step closer to welcoming new owner, storage units
Representatives of the group looking to buy the Palace Mall unveiled plans to transform a portion of the building into commercial storage units during Monday’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.
While the commission members overwhelmingly supported the need for more development to take shape on the north side of the city, the application for a conditional use permit that would allow the addition of storage units narrowly passed by a vote of 3-2 at City Hall. Mark Bigelow, of Partner MRS, LLC, along with Roman Daniels-Brown, represented the group of interested buyers and joined the meeting via phone conference.
Although it was a thriving mall decades ago, the declining retail industry has left Mitchell’s first mall with a handful of empty retail spaces. According to Brian Eliason, Mitchell Realty broker, the building is under a contract to be sold to Bigelow and Partner MRS, LLC, if the Mitchell City Council gives final approval of the conditional use permit at the Nov. 4 meeting. The mall has been listed with Mitchell Realty since Aug. 15 at a price of $999,900.
“I think the bigger question is if this is where the Planning and Zoning Commission wants to see storage units, in this prominent part of town” Genzlinger said. “With putting more storage units here, are we just giving up on the north end of town and focusing our efforts on the south end of town? I don’t like that idea.”Representing one of the two votes to deny recommendation, commission member Kevin Genzlinger took issue with transforming a large portion of the Palace Mall into storage units, considering the mall’s prominent location in the city of Mitchell. The addition of storage units is not an ideal addition for the mall and the north side of town, Genzlinger said.
Genzlinger acknowledged the need to find some sort of use for the mall, but constructing storage units isn’t a suitable option for the building, he said.
Daniels-Brown responded to Genzlinger’s concerns, emphasizing how the retail industry, especially inside malls, is hurting and declining across the country. By adding storage units, Bigelow said it's one way to generate revenue in the 151,000-square-foot building.
“If we could find a bunch of retailers to come in there, we would certainly entertain that, but it’s just not happening in Mitchell and all over the country,” Daniels-Brown said. “Malls are struggling, and re-purposing them may be the best way to get some revenue back into them.”
Daniels-Brown noted he intends to keep the existing tenants in the mall. As of now, the businesses occupying the building include a longtime local barber shop, a hair styling business, a tattoo parlor, Dollar Tree and New China Buffet. Mitchell Telecom also has a retail storefront and business offices at its mall location. Roughly 48,000 square feet of the facility — or 37.5 percent — is currently occupied.
“We are planning on building the storage units around the tenants who are there, and we’re open to rent space for individuals who are willing to come in,” Daniels-Brown said. “We’re flexible with what we can do with the amount of square footage in the building.”
The storage units would likely be installed in the middle of the mall, while the north and south ends of the building would remain retail spaces, Daniels-Brown said.
Genzlinger pitched the idea of razing the mall and parsing out the land it sits on to begin redeveloping the area anew.
Commission member Craig Fergen offered a different perspective of the proposed plan, and said he believes the interested buyers' plan for the building transformation is a great opportunity for the mall and the north end of the city.
“I feel the exact opposite, because there are other empty buildings and lots in the town like Shopko, and I can’t think of a better opportunity for this building to be used,” Fergen said, making the first motion to approve recommending the conditional use permit.