KALISPELL, Mont. - The Mountain Mall in Whitefish is getting ready for some major upgrades, including the addition of a Shopko Hometown store and a renovation to the facade and interior.
Mall management says the addition will hopefully stabilize the mall, which has undergone a lot of change over its 28-year history.
"It's a win for our community, it's a win for the Mountain Mall, and I think it's a win for the small business owners that are going to be here," said General Manager Tom Kraus.
To make room for Shopko, eight stores are being relocated. Mall management has offered the businesses other locations within the mall, but some say the proposed locations do not meet their needs.
"We're looking at probably some higher rates and having to get a bigger spot, so financially don't know if I want the size," said Dan Torrence, owner of Creative Signs in the mall.
Business owners we spoke with said that they feel as though Shopko will take away from the community feel of the mall. They are also afraid it will impact small businesses.
"Pretty big defeat for small businesses, I think, and I think that's the biggest issue I have with this whole thing," said Graham Hart, owner of Bonsai Brewing Project.
The mall will also undergo a renovation to give the exterior and interior a facelift. The project is estimated to cost up to $3.7 million. $200,000 of that money will come from Whitefish special tax funds, which are used to spruce up businesses around town. Mountain Mall will have to pay that back in tax money.
Businesses will be relocated by the end of the year, with construction beginning early next year. Shopko is slated to open by September 2015.