Polk County Approves $2.5 Million Loan to Owner of Merle Hay Mall

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Polk County will loan the owner of Merle Hay Mall two and a half million dollars to buy the vacant Sears and Younkers buildings at the mall. The Board of Supervisors approved the 15-year economic development loan this morning. The money is not tax dollars, but instead comes from Prairie Meadows revenue.

Liz Holland, the CEO of the mall, says there are a couple of different plans for the empty buildings.

"For the Sears site, our goal would be to tear down the building and build tenants that would only have exterior access," said Holland. "Because that building is 59 ½ years old, it’s probably not reusable in its current state. The Younkers store is much newer, and so we would be looking for two users for that building: one would be an upper level user, and would be retail and the lower level would just have parking lot access, and so we’re hoping to do some kind of entertainment center there."

Holland says the goal is to be able to redevelop the Younkers building by the middle of next year. The Sears site will likely take longer, but Holland says neither building will be acquired until a plan is put together with tenants.