Ames City Council approves plans for redevelopment of North Grand Mall


Photo: Nick Nelson/Iowa State Daily

Shoppers browse North Grand Mall on Tuesday, Jan. 10. The Ames City Council voted Tuesday about whether to approve new stores and renovations to the mall.

Melis Meas

The Ames City Council moved to unanimously approve the redevelopment of North Grand Mall on Tuesday night.

“It’s about time,” said Peter Orazem, at-large representative. “This is a college town and students needs jobs, which the mall will give them.”

The redevelopment comes after the building owner, GK Development, tried to make negotiations with retailers back in 2007.

GK Development’s representative, Marianne Fasano, said she couldn’t disclose which retailers are looking to join North Grand. She disclosed that they are “seeking commitments from retailers to meet the retail needs of North Grand and the Ames community.”

North Grand Mall is looking to add five new retail stores and two new restaurants.

Charlie Kuester, Ames city planner, who made the proposals, said, “If the City Council approves, the construction would begin in the spring.”

The final result of the redevelopment is unknown.

The project is estimated to cost $8 million. At least one lease agreement has been signed, while the others remain in negotiations, with one hopefully being signed in the next 30 days.

GK Development refused to release the names of two retailers until Sept. 1 in order to give those tenants more time to be confident in the lease, even though City Council members expressed concerns on the late date.

Near 24th Street and Grand Avenue, the vacant area where the old Sears used to sit will be reconstructed inside and out for new tenants. That area of redevelopment will be ready as early as fall 2012. There also will be reconstruction just south of where the old Walgreens stood before its relocation.

Wells Fargo, a separate building from the mall, will be closing and the space will be added to North Grand Mall. The new buildings in that area will be 58,000 square feet and 10,000 square feet of new retail space. Also in that section will be where GK Development hopes to add a new restaurant. Another potential restaurant location will be on 30th Street and Grand Avenue by JC Penney.

“The redevelopment of North Grand will be great for the Ames community, as well as the students of Iowa State,” Kuester said. “There will be many benefits, such as more employment for our community and sales tax for the city.”

For some students at Iowa State, the mall means the opportunity to shop closer to home.

“I’m hoping for Forever21 or H&M being added,” said Caitrin Fretham, open-option sophomore, who believes the closer mall would cut down on the amount she spends on gas visiting other malls. “I would go to Jordan Creek over North Grand. But with a good redevelopment, I would go to North Grand.”

Kuester said that the redevelopment is a good step for Ames, and he believes the community will enjoy it very much.

“The public will be getting a lot more shopping done with about 80,000 square feet of retail space coming in,” Kuester said. “The benefits of a new and improved shopping center that is lively and active will bring traffic to Ames.”

The Ames City Council was unable to give the date of the start of redevelopment because GK Development has not released that information.