HELENA – Helena’s Capital Hill Mall has sat mostly empty for almost a year, after its last retail store closed its doors. But developers say they’ve always seen potential at the site.
“This property is right in the heart of Helena,” said Mark Esponda, vice president of project development for Dick Anderson Construction. “There’s about 13 acres on this site, between two of the busiest streets in Helena.”
Now, after months of uncertainty, a new local co-owner is making plans to tear the mall building down and fully redevelop the site.
Dick Anderson, a developer and business owner, purchased a one-half interest in the mall property earlier this year from Kimball Investment Company, based in Utah. His company will take the lead in the demolition and redevelopment process.
Esponda said they are currently in the process of getting a permit to tear down the building. He said demolition could start in late fall, and should be finished by next spring.
Esponda said it would be too difficult to convert the mall into offices or retail space.
“We feel like the best use of this property is just to redevelop it, to raze the building and start over here,” he said.
The owners are looking to create mixed-use development in place of the mall building. He said they’ve already had discussions with some possible tenants, but that nothing about the property’s future has been decided yet.
“For this site, we see that it could have some good potential for possibly a hotel, office space, medical office space, maybe some financial institutions, restaurants,” he said.
J.C. Penney was the last retail store in the mall. It closed its doors last July. The only active business remaining is Lucky Lil’s Casino. Esponda said the casino will close when the building is demolished, but that the owners are interested in remaining on the property in the future.
Esponda said he’s hopeful that, once the mall building is gone, people will have a better idea of the possibilities.
“Once the site’s cleared, driving on 11th Avenue and being able to look out into the Valley, you’ll have a better sense of the scale of the site and what could possibly go here,” he said.