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Commercial businesses remain open in Marion Square Mall
by DJ Kauffman Correspondent · November 2nd, 2017

Many questions have arisen concerning the Marion Square Mall in conjunction with a possible new mixed-use facility plan. To accurately report on the subject, we sat in on a recent Marion Public Library building update meeting and also spoke with Director/Co-Owner of Genesis Equities, LLC Hannah M. Kustes.

Before the 11 a.m., Monday, October 30, meeting at the Marion Public Library, those present were shown narrow, cramped office spaces and a partial basement area in the current facility. According to a library official, the library's use has substantially grown over the years and now serves about 1,000 patrons each day.

After the tour, the group met in a conference room, where new library details were addressed. Meeting officials said nothing has been decided on when it comes to the new library plans.

During the meeting, attendees learned how several ideas have been submitted since the Imagin8 idea for a larger facility first began, including a current one, where the library could possibly be part of a mixed-used project located in the Marion Square Mall. The development ideas are changing all of the time, they said.

They also mentioned that housing the new library with double the space and in a commercial/retail/housing mixed-use facility seems the most cost effective, since a new stand-alone facility or library addition would be too costly on its own.

One rendering presented depicts the new library (with apartments above), at the south-west corner of the expansive facility. If the plan moves forward, a plaza area between the west end of the mixed-use building and City Square Park (currently used for parking), would not be part of the library space, they said.

And, as the need for additional parking is anticipated, a nearby parking structure is also being considered, as well as a possible south-side sky walk to the new library. City Council Member Paul Draper, who attended the meeting, suggested designing the sky walk like an old covered bridge in keeping with Marion's heritage, and questioned whether the old train in the park would remain.

Another piece of the current mixed-use plan includes the Marion Square Mall as the construction site. Genesis Equities of Marion, in partnership with Ryan Companies of Cedar Rapids, now manages the property since acquiring it on September 27 of this year from N & K division of Noddle Companies, Kustes said.

According to Kustes, no redevelopment project has been finalized. She said if the conceptualized mixed-use facility is built on the mall property, any residential tenants living on the second and third floors would be charged a non-subsidized market rate for this area.

In addition, Kustes said they are "at least six months out from an agreement, if the project is feasible."
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