City wants hardware store
By Dustin White
Mandan News, editor
In January 2011, the city of Mandan first contacted Golz, who has operated a hardware store in Ashley for nearly 17 years. Ellen Huber, the Mandan business development and communications director, said the purpose was to see if Golz would consider opening a hardware store in Mandan. Over the course of the next year, the city met with Golz and explored possible locations that fit the needs of the store, while also considering business assistance programs.
Initially, Golz indicated that he was interested in the site between the Morton Mandan Public Library and Cass Clay; however, in the fall of 2011, the city was unable to convince BNSF Railway to reduce an operating and management easement on the property, Huber said. This affected the buildable area, and at the time, made the site seem incompatible with the building needs. Currently, this property is primarily used for additional parking during community activities such as Art in the Park, and Buggies ‘n Blues.
With the initial site having been ruled out, Golz made a proposal on another location in 2012. He was looking at 40,000 square feet (slightly less than 1 acre), west of Sunset Drive, near the new middle school and Walmart. His intention had been to build an 11,420-square-foot store at that location. The land he was looking at purchasing was part of a 3.1-acre parcel of city-owned land, which itself was part of a two parcel plot totaling 21 acres set to be developed. Along with Golz, there were three other offers that were being considered for the two parcels.
The 3.1-acre parcel was eventually sold to Riverwest Development. Kathye Spillman, who is also the owner of Keitu Engineering, used the land to build a new office headquarters as well as a second building that is leased to Feil Orthodontics. Another construction project on that property is planned to be underway soon, involving sold land to BNC National Bank.
That was not the end for Golz though. Nor did the city want to let the proposal simply slip by, as a hardware store is among the targeted retail goals for downtown Mandan. Huber said that hardware is a major demand in the community, currently seeing a $2.1 million gap in Morton County. In the summer of 2013, Golz circled back to that initial lot between the library and Cass Clay. Huber said, “With the help of our engineering department, we determined that by having the building face east or west instead of south toward Main, there were site layouts that could accommodate a decent-sized building while meeting parking needs.”
Golz indicated that he would want to acquire the property. The next step for the city, to make that possible, was to make the property available to the public. On Nov. 5, the City Commission granted the authorization to issue a request for proposals. Which is what Golz then did, issuing a formal proposal for a 9,000-square-foot building that would allow for 22-25 parking spaces; projecting a cost of $1.7 million. The plan would see initial groundbreaking in March, with the building completed in June. A grand opening would not be expected until at least September.
Since Golz’s formal proposal though, the city experienced the unexpected closing of Central Market. Located just across the street from the property Golz is interested in purchasing, the closing has affected the final outcome, with Golz’s proposal now including a contingency that the Central Market building must be occupied before he would purchase the land. Mayor Arlyn Van Beek said the grocery story was an anchor to the entire central business district. He said that city officials will work to recruit a new grocery store to the location. If a grocer cannot be found, they still want to try to fill in gaps in retail by securing other businesses such as a dry cleaner, clothing store or sporting goods.
Yet, as Van Beek said, “control over the future of the Central Market building is ultimately in the private sector.” Mandan officials are in contact with the property owner, Wally Joersz of Joersz Land LLP, to help coordinate recruitment efforts.
The building currently being empty has raised some concerns though, as Golz’s proposal is contingent on it being occupied, but there is some interest in the building, said Huber. With the possibility of adding a hardware store on Main Street, there may be an additional motivation for a new business to lease the Central Market building.
With the situation unsure for the time, the city commission has voted on an option-to-buy agreement, allowing Golz to purchase the land once the contingency is filled. While the future is not certain, it does look promising for a blossoming Main Street.