Development group purchasing Southbridge Mall, wants to transform into family entertainment complex
Story originally published at 9:35 PM Tuesday May 4th — Updated 5:00 AM on Wednesday May 5th
MASON CITY — Southbridge Mall is being sold to a development group that plans to transform the facility from mainly retail to family entertainment.
OZ Hotels and Resorts, headed by David Rachie, who is also spearheading the Hyatt Place Hotel that will be constructed in the eastern part of the mall parking lot that is part of the River City Renaissance Project, told the City Council in Mason City Tuesday night that the investment group wanted to buy the mall to protect their investment in the hotel. “We were always excited to be associated with the mall. As the years have gone on in this project, with COVID and other things, we just saw the mall behind us dying and thought we can’t have a dead mall behind us. We have negotiated with the old current owners — actually soon not to be the current owners — last Friday we signed a purchase agreement with the current owners and we’ve gone hard, so we will own this mall and we want to redevelop it.”
Rachie says the mall will be re-branded as “Hollywoodland”, which the company is using for similar projects. Rachie says some of the tenants cannot be named at this time, but the movie theater complex will be re-opened showing current and retro movies, while the company that owns Gino’s East Chicago-deep dish style pizza and Chicago’s Comedy Bar will be putting in a restaurant and club. Rachie says they plan to transform the inward-facing direction of the mall and open it up, especially on the mall’s east side where the former Younker’s store was located. “It’s just a big brick wall for the entire block. What we want to do is transform the mall so that it’s more outward-facing. You’ll see Gino’s East, while the main entrance will still be inside the mall, we will have outdoor seating for it. You will be able to come up to here and pick up take away. Then you’ll notice we make these look like all different buildings along here, you have the comedy bar, which will have a different façade.”
Two other bars will be part of the project, including one that has a name connected with University of Iowa athletics on it. “Obviously one of the favorite Iowa breweries, Backpocket, coming in, which will open up the back to be a beer garden for them. One of the things we’re really most excited about is that we have Gary Dolphin, the voice of the Hawkeyes, will be putting in another one of his bars. He has a bar in Dubuque that we were involved in as well.”
A potential development agreement with the city would include repair or replacement of the mall roof and the redevelopment of the mall interior. The developer would be required to enter into a minimum assessment agreement setting the minimum assessed value of the facility at $30 million and agree to create a minimum number of jobs in the mall. The city would provide a 10-year abatement of the incremental taxes generated by the redeveloped mall. The council set a public hearing for their June 1st meeting to amend the city’s urban renewal area to include the mall project.
Click here to see the hard copy of presentation given to the council
Video from last night’s meeting — presentation starts at the 22:00 mark