The Mandan City Commission has approved issuing requests for proposal for the purchase or lease and redevelopment of the former Central Market and Thrifty White Drug properties, to allow for the exploration of uses other than the proposed “Railyard” concept for the vacant spaces.

“It’s good the commission decided to put it back out there and make sure that we exhaust every opportunity to get a retail business in there before we move forward with something else in that property,” said Mayor Tim Helbling, referring to the former grocery store building.

The city purchased the properties, at 504 W. Main St. and 511 First St. N.W., in 2017 for $1.5 million, using funds from the Mandan Supplemental Environmental Projects Trust. The buildings have been vacant since December 2013 and July 2014, respectively.

Mandan hired ICON Architectural Group to develop a concept for the vacant spaces. The Railyard — a destination entertainment district — has been a topic of conversation in the community since the architectural and engineering firm unveiled the plan to the commission more than a year ago.

The Railyard concept, which has not been approved by the commission and remains up for consideration, splits the former grocery store into a modern library and an event hall, with potential for shared conference space and restrooms.

The city's intent is for the Morton Mandan Public Library to move across the street to occupy the east portion of the  building. The library's board of trustees recently determined the space fits its needs.

An additional mixed-use, multistory building would be built on the former grocery store property, with the opportunity for commercial space at street level and upper-level lifestyle apartments with underground parking.

Potentially, the city could sell the freight house building that now houses the library, and the former drugstore, and use the proceeds to help develop The Railyard.

According to Ellen Huber, Mandan’s business development director, there has been recent interest in the real estate, prompting the commission's decision Sept. 4 to issue the requests for proposal.

While there is no minimum asking price, the RFPs state the city has invested $1.5 million in acquisition of the properties in addition to approximately $160,000 in associated expenses.

The commission also approved issuing a request for proposals for the purchase and redevelopment of the city-owned property at 218 W. Main St. that houses Huntington Books.

According to Huber, the Mandan Remediation Trust acquired the property more than a decade ago for remediation purposes and deeded it to the city.

“Remediation is about wrapped up in that property, so it’s best to get the city out of the landlord business and turn it over to the private sector to do what they do best,” Helbling said.

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Reach Cheryl McCormack at 701-250-8264 or cheryl.mccormack@bismarcktribune.com.)

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General Assignment Reporter