SIOUX CENTER—Centre Mall is the center of a lot of activity as mall management works to overhaul some existing space and bring a series of updates to the Sioux Center landmark that’s home to more than a dozen businesses.
Construction and remodeling work is happening inside the mall at the former Center Sports location, which had 5,300 square feet of space to work with including the previous store front area and its storage space. The store front area is being divided up into two stores.
Prairie Life Chiropractic is temporarily occupying one of those spaces that’s already been prepared.
“We are in some discussions about potential tenants for the remainder of that space once the chiropractor moves out, but we really don’t have anything solid yet. Just discussions,” Centre Mall manager Dean Gabhart said.
It’s an encouraging step, all the same.
“We would love to see all that space filled by next spring,” he said.
Construction continues on the second 1,000-square foot-space, but the Sioux County driver’s license office plans to move into it once it’s ready.
“We felt it was important to keep the driver’s license office in Sioux Center,” Gabhart said. “So, we worked with the Sioux County Treasurer’s Office to make that happen in a new space here.”
He noted that people still sometimes struggle to find where the driver’s license office is located, so he thinks this move will help them be more visible to those needing them.
Moving into the driver’s license office space will be Reflections Prom & Bridal, currently located at 309 N. Main Ave.
To accommodate them, Centre Mall plans to expand the driver’s license office space by combining it with some of the backroom area of the former Center Sports spot. When that’s done, Reflections will have about 2,400 square feet of space to move into.
Additionally, an exterior entrance will be added, along with display windows on the outside wall.
“That will be very visible to people going by,” Gabhart said.
As it stands, Reflections hopes to make the move to the mall sometime in November, before Christmas season. Work on their spot in the mall should be wrapped up in October, leaving them with some time to personalize the store to suit their needs.
New, updated storefronts within the mall also will be put in place at each location.
“I think people appreciate having a more modern look,” said Gabhart. “That will be the most visible thing to the customers. The interiors of those spaces will be customized according to the eventual tenants who move in there.”
Other future plans
Although this construction is the most visible work being done, there are more changes being planned or discussed for the mall. That includes various updates with the goal of keeping the mall up to date and attractive for customers and store owners such as switching to LED lights inside and outside. Not only will this be a cost saver, Gabhart said, but the lighting itself should improve, too.
“It’s not as harsh as some of the fluorescent lights, and it creates a nice environment for people,” Gabhart said of the interior LEDs. “These LEDs, it’s a softer light.”
Gabhart is looking at creating some conversation areas in the hallway that would consist of more casual furniture and lighting, along with area rugs or carpeting. The space should feel set apart and comfortable enough for people to sit and talk.
New food court furniture is also likely.
“We’ve had the same table and chairs in the food court for more than 25 years,” Gabhart said. “They’ve held up very well, they’ve been very good, but I think people sometimes appreciate a change and update.”
Further down the road, possibly in conjunction with the Highway 75 update, the mall might put up a new exterior sign closer to the road. This would replace the current sign structure, which would have to be taken down.
It’s hoped that doing that will bring better attention to the stores within the mall.
Nothing is set in stone for these plans, but one option being considered for a new sign is adding an LED display that would allow for images and messages for the different mall-based businesses.
Removing the current Centre Mall sign structure and the neighboring dumpster enclosure would free up more parking space for mall visitors and give mall management a chance to improve traffic flow in that part of the parking lot.
Gabhart said that the mall is easing up on hour requirements for its tenant businesses.
“We won’t be requiring any set hours,” he said. “The mall will have set hours, but the stores will operate on the hours that work best for them, according to their own owners.”
Mall hours are 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.
“Already you’re seeing some variations to that among the stores,” Gabhart said. “We need to do what makes sense for the individual stores for the mall to stay vital in the community.”
Another possible but currently speculative move the mall might make is to rename the Centre Mall and create a new brand identity for it.
“After 28 years here, I think it might be time for a fresh look at a name and marketing program that’s more descriptive of what the facility is, what it has become,” Gabhart said.
When Centre Mall was built in 1991, it was in an effort to keep people interested in shopping downtown, but the impact has been greater than that, Gabhart said. What they’ve managed to do is create a safe and clean environment suitable for friends and family to spend their time.
“We always have had an eye toward being a place where people can come and be together,” Gabhart said.