On Tuesday night, the city council unanimously approved a new “mixed use” zone at the Platte River Mall, so the new property owners can start construction in the middle of what is now the main parking lot.

The primary part of the extensive overhaul of the mall area will be a four-story building that will have retail shops on the ground floor and 96 apartments on the upper floors.

The developers also want to build more retail shops near the street and make extensive renovations to the main building of the mall.

Construction should begin in June if all goes well, the owners’ representative Mike Works told the Bulletin Monday. The new owners will apply for tax increment financing at meetings in late April before the city planning commission and council, and they intend to ask the council to approve a special enhanced employment area sales tax. 

The EEA (enhanced employment area) designation would allow businesses in the mall area to charge an added 1.9% sales tax on retail items to help offset development costs. 

Works said a new entrance would be built this spring to the main mall building, south of the entrance to the old Herberger’s store. it would be one of several new entrances to the building.

Currently, most of the existing stores on the south side of the main mall are moving to the north side to accommodate the renovation. They will remain there about a year, Works said, with the option to relocate elsewhere on the property. 

Near Dewey St., new building space will be created for a half-dozen retail shops.

“If people are in favor of redeveloping the mall, I encourage them to let city council members know,” Works said. “I think this is an exciting project. I like North Platte. We want to improve something that improves the quality of life in the city.” 

Here’s how the project would proceed, according to plans and documents filed with the city:

Phase 1

The first phase of construction will be the mixed-use building in the middle of the area. Demolition of the parking areas in that area, and dirt work to prepare for the footings and foundations, will be the first steps.

Also, the renovation of the south end of the main building will begin. the internal hallway will be removed. Store spaces will be enlarged. Store entrances will be located on the exterior of the building.

The tire store near the front of the mall property, as well as the drive-through bank building on the north side of the parking lot, will be demolished by Dec. 31, according to the plans.

The Verizon Store on the northwest property corner will remain. Arby’s will continue operation for the immediate future but eventually will be demolished and relocate.

The movie theatre on the southwest property corner will remain there, with an eye toward bringing in a new movie house this summer.

In all, the property will be divided into 13 separate lots, Works said.

Mixed-use buildings will allow for residential development and a stand-alone multi-family residential structure near the southeast corner is noted in the plans.

Parking lots will be reconstructed and reconfigured to the west, south and southeast of the mall, Works said. Parking areas to the north and east will remain, with some minor patching, repairs and striping.

Also, the storm sewer will be re-routed, the plans say. 

At the council meeting, councilman Ed Rieker asked if he city would pay the costs of new infrastructure.

Zoning Administrator Judy Clark said that would be determined in the redevelopment plan that will come forward in late April.

City Administrator Matt Kibbon agreed.

“It’s early in the game to determine the amounts and responsibilities of those kinds of costs,” Kibbon said.

Also

In other business, the council approved two conditional use permits on first reading, to allow living quarters in a church and a business building. Two more readings are required.

One applies to an office building at 601 E. Francis in the Francis St. Square. The property is owned by New Life Assembly church.

The applicant wants to add three apartments above the commercial building. The use would be similar to the immediate area, since there is an apartment complex directly across Poplar St. to the east.

Councilman Ty Lucas moved to add a condition – that the permit would expire if the ownership changes. If ownership changes, Lucas said the property could be rezoned, or the conditional use could be renewed by a vote of the council, and he thought it would be important to review it. The council approved.

Also, the council unanimously approved a living quarter on the west end of the Enzo Athletic Performance building at 206 N. Jeffers. The owner has built the living space there, then realized a permit is required.

Also, the council approved an H-l Hospital zone at 808 W. Philip Avenue and 805 W. Reid – the previous location of the New Life Church.

The rezoning will allow for future sale of the property as either a church or some type of commercial building. Since the former church is close to the hospital, the area could develop as a medical office or similar use.

Music on the Bricks

The council approved the closure of Dewey and East Fifth streets in the core of downtown on Saturday, May 1 for a Music on the Bricks celebration. Alcohol would be allowed that evening, as it has at past celebrations. The vote was 8-0.