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The Scarlet & Black

Demolition at Old McNally’s site begins; project proposals pending

The College will begin taking project proposals for the old McNally’s site this fall. Photo by Helena Gruensteidl.

The demolition of the old McNally’s property on Main Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues began last Monday, Aug. 29. The construction is part of Grinnell College’s efforts to bridge the gap between campus and downtown Grinnell under the auspices of the Zone of Confluence project. While many are under the impression that the College will erect a mixed-use building combining an apartment and retail spaces in the old property’s place, final plans for the project have yet to be determined. In spite of the project’s uncertain future, Rachel Kinnick, the director of the Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce, believes a new mixed-use space has the potential to bring together the College and the community.

“Not every day do projects like these come together in small towns,” Kinnick said, referencing the rumored mixed-use building. Kinnick stressed that the Chamber has nothing to do with the development of the project or bringing businesses into the spaces.

However, she said that the she hopes the developers bring in a mix of businesses that will not compete with established businesses in Grinnell. Instead, these businesses would provide a new draw for community members and students alike.

“My goal, and certainly I think the College’s goal, is to find things that would help with the whole rationale behind the zone. That would include things that would help get students, faculty and staff better integrated into the community and help get the community better integrated into the College arena,” Kinnick said. “The more interaction and integration that you can have between the College and community circles, the better.”

The Grinnell Herald Register started the buzz about the new property in an article in its Thursday, Aug. 24 issue. However, Kinnick questioned the information in the article.

“What you read in the paper is far from coming to fruition. It made it seem, I’ll say, as though there are some done deals and some signed contracts, and I don’t believe that’s actually the case. The project is very early on in development still.”

Demolition at the old McNally’s site started this week, though it is currently unclear what exactly will occupy the space. Photo by Helena Gruensteidl

Lisa Lacher, the College director of media relations, confirmed Kinnick’s hunch.

“Grinnell College has not made any final decisions regarding the selection of an architect or a developer to partner with on this site,” Lacher wrote in an email to The S&B. “[The College will] conduct a formal request for proposals this fall.”

Although a new mixed-use building may not be in the cards for downtown Grinnell, the community can expect some updates as the College continues pursuing its Zone of Confluence project. Lacher wrote that the College has purchased ten properties totaling 3.19 acres in the area between campus and Grinnell’s main downtown business district. The College is in the process of preparing all of the properties for development, and in the meantime, it is considering the best ways to revitalize the zone in order to “expand and complement what residents, faculty, staff, students and visitors already enjoy in the community.”

“The College will proceed with due diligence to ensure that the final project selected for the former McNally’s site will best increase the vitality of downtown and meet community needs,” Lacher wrote.

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