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Crossroads Mall: A new era at Crossroads

Sears building is gone, other development is planned; New plan calls for 11 retail buildings and six mixed-use buildings

-Submitted image
This image shows what the area that now contains the Crossroads Mall could look like with residential, business and retail buildings. This view looks from the southwest corner to the northeast corner of the current Crossroads Mall.

There is a big, barren patch of concrete surrounded by wire fencing at the south end of Crossroads Mall.

A Sears store and its connected auto repair shop sat there for about 50 years. It was demolished late last year in the first phase of massive changes to the mall property.

The rest of the mall will eventually be demolished also.

In its place will rise a series of retail and residential buildings, a professional or medical office building and a hotel.

That is the vision of Crossroads Plaza Development LLC, of Ankeny, which is in the process of buying the mall property.

-Submitted image
This map shows the planned locations of the various buildings that will occupy the site of Crossroads Mall in Fort Dodge under a redevelopment plan unveiled by Crossroads Plaza Development LLC, of Ankeny.

”Ultimately, it brings those shoppers from our region back to Fort Dodge and makes Fort Dodge and Webster County the regional hub,” Mayor Matt Bemrich said.

The project will create jobs, both during the construction phase and when the stores and businesses are open, he said.

But the initial impact of the project will be visual, according to the mayor.

”I think the early impact will just be the aesthetics,” he said.

The removal of the Sears building, he said, “just changes a person’s vantage point.”

The plan was unveiled in November 2019.

The Sears store opened in 1965. The mall opened in 1967 under the name Crossroads Shopping Center. Originally, it was a more open air shopping center. It was fully enclosed in 1979 and the name was changed to Crossroads Mall.

But within the last decade, all three of its anchor stores — JC Penney, Sears and Younkers — closed.

“Malls don’t exist the way they did during the ’80s and ’90s,” Bemrich said. “What was broken needs to be fixed.”

A 2016 plan to tear down the old Sears store, which is actually a separate property from the rest of the mall, fell apart after the company that then owned the mall, J. Herzog & Sons, of Denver, Colorado, objected to it.

Then in 2018, Namdar Realty Group, Mason Asset Management and CHC Capital, all of Great Neck, New York, purchased the mall.

Under the plan announced in 2019, Crossroads Plaza Development LLC bought the Sears property from Blessing Enterprises, of St. Charles, Missouri, for $1,435,000.

The Sears building was leveled by the end of November.

Crossroads Plaza Development LLC is in the process of buying the rest of the mall from the New York companies for $3.3 million. That deal is expected to close by March 15.

Bemrich said he expects the developer will announce more details of the plans for the site after that transaction closes.

The mall will be demolished by Dec. 31, 2024.

The new plan calls for 11 retail buildings and six mixed-use buildings that will have stores on the first floor and apartments on the second floor.

A 59,000-square-foot medical or office building is also planned.

Additionally in the plan is a five-story hotel.

A green space with a feature like a large fountain will be in the middle of the property.

A new section of South 27th Street will run through the site.

Crossroads Plaza Development LLC will receive some significant financial help from the city government to achieve its plan.

On Jan. 13, the Fort Dodge City Council approved an agreement that commits it to providing up to $18.2 million to the developer. That money will reimburse it for property acquisition, demolition, cleanup and infrastructure improvements.

“A public-private partnership is the only feasible method for a redevelopment of this magnitude in a market the size of Fort Dodge,” Vickie Reeck, the city’s community and economic development manager, wrote in a report to the council.

She wrote that the developer requested the city’s financial help “in order to keep the selling price of the lots in a range that will be acceptable in the Fort Dodge market.”

The $18.2 million will come from tax increment financing, not the general fund that pays for police and fire protection and dozens of other government functions. Tax increment financing occurs when increased property tax revenue from a designated area is set aside to be reinvested in that area.