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Planning Commission approves building restoration plans

A historic building on the corner of East Second Avenue and Lawler Street may soon welcome two new retail storefronts after the Mitchell Planning Commission approved Jeremy Gunkel's remodeling plans during Tuesday's meeting.

A historic building on the corner of East Second Avenue and Lawler Street may soon welcome two new retail storefronts after the Mitchell Planning Commission approved Jeremy Gunkel's remodeling plans during Tuesday's meeting.

Gunkel recently purchased the building located at 201 E. Second Ave., which was the former location of the retail store Reggios. After Gunkel provided extensive details of the remodeling plans he intends to implement on the building, the commission unanimously approved Gunkel's conditional use permit application at City Hall. The Mitchell City Council will now have the final say in approving the remodeling plans at the 6 p.m. June 3 meeting.

The building renovations include the installation of walls on the interior, along with replacing windows and the corner door facing North Lawler Street.

"We're going to remodel the inside of the building, and we are going to try to bring back the original windows that were on the building," Gunkel said. "We want to make it a more inviting business and area."

Should the council approve the conditional use permit, Gunkel said the main floor of the building would be occupied by two local retail businesses. According to Gunkel, he and his wife Christie plan to open a retail store that sells old fashioned ice cream, popcorn, kids toys and frozen yogurt, while the neighboring business would rent the remaining retail space.

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The neighboring store would be owned and operated by Brittney Pohlen, who plans to open a kids play center. Pohlen said the play center would compliment the kids toys being sold at Gunkel's retail store.

"We're looking forward to remodeling the building, and I think it will be a nice addition to the area," Pohlen said. "It would be a unique business that provides fun activity for kids as well."

The existing windows on the main floor of the building are boarded up, and Gunkel said the exterior remodeling would greatly enhance the appearance for welcoming customers to the two retail businesses that would occupy the main floor.

In addition, Gunkel intends to spruce up the apartments on the second floor of the building, which he said would be available for renting.

"Some of the showers need to be replaced, and only nine of the apartments are really usable due to the remaining apartment lacking a bathroom," Gunkel said.

Gunkel said there are 10 apartments in the historic building, and he plans to gradually update nine of the apartments.

Because the building is historic, Gunkel may restore or preserve the property through repairs or alterations. However, he may not demolish and reconstruct any of the property.

"There are some foundation issues, which aren't major. It's mainly some tuck pointing and restoration along the alleyway," Gunkel said. "The one side of the alleyway on Second Avenue needs to be redone, because it's been 15 years since it had been worked on."

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To fund the foundation and tuck pointing restoration work, Gunkel applied for a state grant with the South Dakota State Historical Society. He hopes to secure the grant by next year and begin restoring the alley and foundation.

Gunkel said he plans to open the retail store he and his wife will operate in roughly one month, pending the council's approval of the conditional use permit application.

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