Poised for growth

Sports industry drives business boom at Corridor Plaza

-Submitted graphic
Dunham’s Sporting Goods has committed to returning to Fort Dodge. Its location will be a new, larger store that will occupy much of what used to be the Younkers wing of the former Crossroads Mall.

Corridor Plaza is poised for growth in 2024, with sports as the driving force behind the new developments.

A $13 million indoor sports pavilion is planned for the west side of the site that was formerly Crossroads Mall.

And Dunham’s Sporting Goods, a former mall tenant, will be returning with a new and larger store in the last portion of the former shopping center that is still standing.

Sports Pavilion

The 200-foot-by-250-foot sports facility will sit on the west side of Corridor Plaza on ground that has long been identified as the spot for a pavilion and plaza. Its entrance will face east.

Inside, there will be four basketball courts, three pickleball courts and a microbrewery restaurant.

It will be developed, owned and operated by M and M LLC, of Ankeny.

“This is a key element to create a destination that people are going to go to for activities,” City Manager David Fierke said.

He said the project would not happen without financial help from the city.

That financial help will come in the form of $2.65 million from a bond issue, plus five annual payments of $275,000 beginning in 2026. The money for the annual payments will come from sales tax revenue generated at Corridor Plaza.

Dunham’s Sporting Goods

Dunham’s Sporting Goods will return to Fort Dodge this fall with a new store in Corridor Plaza.

Once located in Crossroads Mall, the store closed in 2022. The new, larger store will occupy much of what used to be the Younkers wing of the mall.

“We are excited that Dunham’s has decided to return to Fort Dodge,” Mayor Matt Bemrich said.

“It’s been a staple of our community and has been missed for the last two years,” he added. “They will have expanded offerings, including hunting and fishing selections. It will be a premier store for Dunham’s in the sporting goods world.”

Although the majority of the Crossroads Mall was demolished to make way for the development of Corridor Plaza, the eastern part of the building that was home to Younkers was left standing. The stated goal of property owner Crossroads Plaza Development LLC, of Ankeny, was always to fill that 51,000-square-foot building with stores.

BJ Stokesbary, a spokesman for Crossroads Plaza Development, said Dunham’s Sporting Goods will be on the east side of the building, closest to 29th Street. He said the store will occupy about half of the building.

The necessary renovations will start immediately, he said. The store is expected to open in October.

“We have been working diligently behind the scenes to bring first-class tenants to Corridor Plaza,” Stokesbary said. “We expect many exciting announcements the first part of this year. We have finalized lease and purchase agreements with several tenants and appreciate everyone’s patience as these deals take time before they are ready to be public.”

From failing mall to a flourishing hub of retail, entertainment

As the Corridor Plaza project enters its fifth year, the project team reflects on the journey of purchasing a failing mall and reimagining the space with new infrastructure, retail, and entertainment. Since its inception in 2020, the project has made significant strides, turning the once underutilized area into a growing hub of commerce and community activity.

2020: A Year of Foundations and Challenges

• In January, the Fort Dodge City Council approved a pivotal development agreement with Crossroads Plaza Development, LLC, committing $18.2 million through tax increment financing (TIF). TIF helps cities and counties pay for public improvement projects or provide economic development grants or loans to private entities. Funds secured through TIF must be used within the specific designated area and cannot be used toward general operations of the city or county.

• Mayor Matt Bemrich noted, “This is the perfect demonstration of TIF’s intended use.”

• The $3.3 million purchase of the former Crossroads Mall in March was a critical step, despite the onset of global uncertainties and business closures.

• Key demolitions and zoning changes laid the groundwork for the multi-use site.

2021: Progress and Support

Amidst Adversity

• February saw the City Council backing an application for $18 million in state funding under the Iowa Reinvestment District Program.

• The introduction of a forgivable loan program in March helped former mall tenants relocate and thrive in Fort Dodge.

• By June, the first phase of development was inaugurated, marking a significant leap in the project’s progress. Phase 1 included the construction of utilities and streets on the north portion of the project (Second Avenue South and South 27th Street). It also included the creation of buildable lots along the south side of First Avenue South

New openings, like the UnityPoint Express Clinic and Discount Tire, and announcements of future tenants like Teriyaki Madness and Clean Laundry, highlighted the year

2022: Expansion and Diversification

• April saw the Iowa Economic Development Authority award the city of Fort Dodge and the Corridor Plaza project $17 million under the Reinvestment District program.

• The opening of Phase 2, the arrival of Teriyaki Madness, and Clean Laundry, along with the sale of strategic lots, marked a year of rapid growth and diversification for the project. Phase 2 included construction of utilities and streets on the south portion of the project (Third Avenue South and South 27th Street, north of Fifth Avenue South).

2023: New Beginnings and Continued Growth

• The opening of Tidal Wave Carwash and T-Mobile, along with HyVee Fast & Fresh’s lot purchase, continued to add to the project’s momentum.

• September saw the City Council approval of the Corridor Plaza Pavilion, underscoring the project’s commitment to community and sports engagement and entertainment.


A Promising Future

• The announcement of Dunham’s return and the anticipation of revealing more power center tenants set an optimistic tone for 2024.

• Phase 3 construction commences to tie the project infrastructure together. Phase 3 includes construction of utilities and streets connection through the center of the project (South 27th Street).

Chad Schaeffer, the city’s chief development officer, said, “Fort Dodge’s role as a retail hub in Iowa has been significantly bolstered by the Corridor Plaza project. The redevelopment of this site is crucial for our continued prominence in the region.”


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