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$2M U-Haul project may be in jeopardy

T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY The entrance to the building in Meadow Lane Mall which once housed Marshalltown’s 100,000 square-foot K-Mart store.

A proposed $2 million investment by U-Haul Co. of Iowa to purchase and install storage units in the building which once housed Marshalltown’s K-Mart may be withdrawn.

Marketing Company President Randy Dickson of U-Haul Co. of Urbandale told media representatives after Monday night’s council meeting a proposed city ordinance to prevent U-Haul placement of exterior units in the building’s west parking lot for marketing purposes could be a “deal-killer.”

“It is tough to operate a business like that without creating impressions on people as they go by,” he said. “I liken it to a car lot. If everything they owned was parked behind the building … it would be rough for them to be successful … we can not always rely on the Internet … Yellow Pages are practically non-existent. Our biggest advertisement is equipment.”

However, Dickson also told reporters the two-week period between Monday night’s council and April 8 “would give the company more time to develop a plan that is good for everybody.”

Dickson asked the council during the meeting to table the third and final reading of an ordinance which would have modified the area’s zoning. It would have allowed U-Haul Co. to construct numerous storage units inside, but not allow exterior units in the west parking lot.

A similar motion to table was made by Councilor-At-Large Bill Martin after the issue was introduced on the night’s agenda by Mayor Joel Greer.

Since councilors Mike Gowdy and Gabe Isom were absent — leaving five councilors present — Martin said he thought the issue important enough the full council should vote.

That means the issue may finally be resolved at the April 8 meeting.

Based on votes taken at previous council meetings, five Marshalltown city councilors — Sue Cahill, Mike Gowdy, Bethany Wirin, Isom and Martin ­– want U-Haul to proceed with the deal but not be allowed to install exterior units. Vision Marshalltown President Karn Gregoire said she and Vision Marshalltown support U-Haul’s effort to invest in Marshalltown, but the group was opposed to the exterior units.

Councilors Al Hoop and Leon Lamer have consistently voted to allow U-Haul to place exterior units. Lamer told councilors last month when the deal was first proposed that he wants “to see the building be occupied as a viable business and on the tax rolls.”

The K-Mart store closed Sept. 3, 2017, and has been vacant approximately 18 months. For more information on U-Haul, visit uhaul.com.

The next regular meeting of the council is 5:30 p.m., April 8 in council chambers, 10 W. State St. Visit marshalltown-ia.gov for complete agenda packets and subscribe to agenda notices and department news.

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Contact Mike Donahey at

(641) 753-6611 or

mdonahey@timesrepublican.com