Gander Mountain/Gordman's development

The former Gander Mountain and Gordman’s buildings have been purchased by a California company that plans to repurpose them.

MANKATO — A Fargo development firm that is building a large indoor golf/entertainment complex in Fargo has plans to redevelop the site where the former Dutler’s Bowl as well as an adjacent car wash and shop building now sit.

On Mankato’s east end, a California firm that specializes in redeveloping vacant big-box spaces has plans for the former Kmart/Gander Mountain/Gordman’s buildings.

Meanwhile a big truck sales and service building project is moving ahead on the far eastern edge of Mankato, although it’s being carried out by a new owner. And a Vernon Center towing company is hoping to make a big move to add an office in downtown Mankato.

Dutler’s property

Paces Lodging Corporation of Fargo is working on plans to redevelop properties on Range Street, next to Highway 169 and near the entrance to Hiniker Pond.

Paces is purchasing the former Dutler’s Bowl property, which was most recently an antique mall before closing. The company also is purchasing the car wash next door, a shop building and property behind the car wash owned by Max DeMars, who uses it for storage for his construction business.

A spokesman for Paces said it was too early to talk publicly about its redevelopment plans for the site. Early plans filed with the city say the development would likely include a commercial/retail building, along with a quick service restaurant and potentially a C-store.

Development projects bowling alley

The former Dutler’s Bowl and two other adjacent properties are set for redevelopment by a Fargo commercial development firm.

Mankato City Manager Pat Hentges said the company is in the early stages of its plan and is seeking financial assistance to investigate whether there are any environmental issues on the properties that would need to be addressed. The city is seeking a grant of up to $100,000 to allow the company to investigate potential environmental issues.

Hentges said investigating for potential environmental problems is common. “Today that’s due diligence, particularly with any property that could have been influenced with some level of contamination.”

The city said early discussions indicate Paces is looking at building a 25,000- to 30,000-square-foot building on the property.

Paces Lodging is now working on a 51,000-square-foot indoor golf/entertainment center in Fargo that will feature a 250-yard driving range with 60 hitting bays, including eight private VIP bays, golf simulators, a golf training academy, restaurants and bars.

The stretch of Highway 169 has long been seen as a gateway to North Mankato and Mankato that is in need of aesthetic upgrades. Hentges said the area is more attractive to developers now because it is in a designated “Opportunity Zone” that provides tax credits on new developments.

“We are doing a redevelopment plan for that whole area, on both sides of the highway, with the idea that corridor would be improved.” He said that while there was some new construction, including Kwik Trip and the Harley dealership in the 1990s, there hasn’t been much since.

While much of the land is in Mankato city limits, North Mankato also is studying the Webster Avenue area in its city limits. North Mankato is looking at potential redevelopment in the area but also wants to ensure the Webster intersection with Highway 169 remains open to both directions of Highway 169.

Meanwhile, Hentges said Mankato is likely to propose relocating the West Lind Street intersection with 169 — the road that now connects Kwik Trip traffic to Highway 169. Under the plan, the West Lind intersection would be closed and an intersection with 169 would be moved — closer to Webster Avenue and Harley Davidson — on a road called North River Lane.

Hentges said he understands why North Mankato wants to keep the Webster Avenue intersection to support businesses in that area and thinks a redesigned Webster intersection and a new intersection on North River Lane, while not far apart, would work. He said there are a lot more design options for busy intersections, including signals, roundabouts, J-turns and other designs.

“I think at end of the day there will be two intersections there,” Hentges said.

Gander Mountain

Carrington Company of Eureka, California, purchased the Gander Mountain property, next to Highways 14 and 22 and near the hilltop Hy-Vee.

The commercial development company has properties in 18 states and focuses on shopping centers, malls and big-box properties in rural areas. In previous projects Carrington converted big boxes to house businesses including Rite Aid, Ace Hardware and Big 5 Sporting Goods.

“They have historically bought retail and strip centers and repositioned them,” Hentges said. “They believe there is great potential to redevelop Gander and Gordman’s.”

He said Carrington also has plans to use space in the large parking lot for other businesses, such as restaurants, to locate.

Hentges said Carrington has paid up all the taxes on the property.

Giefer Towing

For 15 years Giefer Towing has operated the relatively small business out of Vernon Center. Now, Jeremy and Susan Giefer hope to use space inside and outside the building behind Cub Foods west to start a Mankato satellite towing service.

“It’s a big jump for us, a big learning curve coming to Mankato,” Jeremy Giefer said. “We hope to serve the Mankato community well.”

The city is reviewing plans that would allow Giefer to use some space inside the building that houses several businesses, including Chip Steak Meats and More, to park a couple of tow trucks and have an office.

A fenced-in vehicle impound lot would be on the back of the building. Chip Steak and some other businesses that rent space in the building would remain.

Giefer said they got a big bump in business in the Mankato area after Affordable Towing bought out the longtime All American Towing early this year. Giefer said he’s long worked with AAA to provide towing and emergency service to their customers in his local area, and AAA transferred all its All American customers to Giefer.

“There is a huge call volume in the Mankato area for Triple A. We probably average about 10 calls a day there now, even with COVID and people driving less. With winter coming, there will be a lot more work,” Giefer said.

He said they also hope to expand the work they do with the State Patrol and Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Department.

Giefer said if things work out, they will probably add a repair shop in Mankato, like the one they have at their existing location.

Truck Center Cos.

Harrison Truck Center, a Freightliner sales and service business on Fourth Avenue next to Highway 14, announced last year it was building a new 70,000-square-foot sales and service business on 24 acres north of Adams Street on the far east edge of Mankato.

Last month Truck Center Companies bought the Harrison Truck group.

Jerry Goodburn, of what is now Truck Center Cos. in Mankato, said the plans for a new building are still moving forward.

“The building plans are at the architects and we’re hoping to break ground in the spring of 2021 and move in in 2022.”

He said their existing building is 50 years old. “The new facility will be state of the art, have increased capacity for parts inventories and service bays to better serve our growing customer base, and we’re hoping to add 20 to 30 jobs,” Goodburn said.

Truck Center Cos., based in Omaha, acquired Altoona-based Harrison Truck Centers, which operated eight locations throughout Iowa and southern Minnesota.

Family-owned Truck Center Companies is one of the largest Freightliner dealers in the U.S. Founded in 1975, the dealership is in 18 cities throughout Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Minnesota.

For more information about the company, see: truckcentercompanies.com

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