EDA gives update on Kmart building development

Photo by Deb Gau Cal Brink and Tara Onken of the Lyon County EDA gave Lyon County commissioners an update on the group’s activities and some major development projects in Marshall.

MARSHALL — There have been a lot of rumors going around about the status of the former Kmart building in Marshall, Tara Onken and Cal Brink said. People have been asking whether the property’s new owners backed out of plans to redevelop it.

As part of a report to the Lyon County Board on Tuesday, Lyon County Economic Development Authority members Onken and Brink said they wanted to clear up some of those rumors.

“They’re still very much, 100 percent committed to Marshall,” Onken said of the old Kmart’s new owners, The Furniture Mart USA. Part of the reason “For Lease” signs are still up for the property is that Furniture Mart USA is looking for co-tenants for the building, she said.

The update on the old Kmart store was part of a bigger presentation on the activities of the Lyon County EDA. Onken and Brink said a full annual report for the EDA would be ready for county commissioners in March.

Onken said she and Brink had traveled to Sioux Falls to meet with the old Kmart’s new owners.

The Kmart store in Marshall had been vacant since it closed in 2014. In 2017, the property was bought by The Furniture Mart USA, a Sioux Falls, S.D., based company with plans to develop the building into retail space. Last May, Furniture Mart USA representatives said the plan for part of the building was to become an Ashley Furniture HomeStore, with other possible tenants filling the rest of the space.

Onken said the Furniture Mart USA is currently looking for co-tenants to help fill the building, but work on renovating the property has moved forward. The new owners have resurfaced the building’s parking lot and improved the drainage on the property.

Brink said the new owners put around $300,000 into the parking lot improvements.

“They told us they didn’t invest that for nothing,” he said.

While ideally there would be co-tenants before interior work on the building would be finished, Brink and Onken said the new owners are moving ahead on interior renovations for the former Kmart as well.

Onken said the EDA has offered suggestions on possible co-tenants, based on survey responses from area residents on what they would like to see in Marshall.

Several of the ongoing economic development projects Onken and Brink told county commissioners about were focused within the city of Marshall. The EDA is still looking at the possibility of a new hotel in Marshall to help allow for bigger sports tournaments or events at the Red Baron Arena and Expo. Onken and Brink said they had also recently met with Ralco, and let the agricultural company know about the progress of infrastructure expansions at the Marshall industrial park.

Onken said the EDA’s emphasis wasn’t just on Marshall, however. The organization’s annual report in March will feature population, housing and employer statistics for different Lyon County cities, as well as major development projects in those communities.

“One thing we really want to do is include information from smaller communities,” Onken said. Not only are there positive things going on in small towns, she said, but development projects can also have a bigger impact there. “Projects in small communities really move the needle in those towns.”