EDITOR'S NOTE: A look back at some of the top stories from 2014.
By JUDY SHERARD
Renovations are coming to The Mall.
In November, Hays city commissioners approved a community-improvement district to pay for the renovations.
The additional 1-cent sales tax will begin April 1, said Kim Rupp, the city's director of finance.
It will bring the total tax to 9.4 percent at The Mall,
Thirty percent of retail space is unoccupied, Matthew S. Gough, the attorney representing DP Management LLC, the building's management company, said at a public hearing in October.
The $3.1 million project includes demolishing the former Montana Mike's building and developing two more outside lots.
Filling all of them could yield the city hundreds of thousands of dollars, Gough said.
Plans also call for replacing the floor and lighting and upgrading entrances.
Approximately $900,000 has been spent during the last five years on capital improvements, according to the company. The money was used to replace the majority of the roof and tenant improvements.
The improvements to the shopping center could boost the city's retail pull factor, which declined to 1.85 from 1.91 in 2013, said Aaron White, executive director for the Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development.
White said the lower pull factor shows people aren't just shopping at other stores, they are shopping in other towns.
"We have to do something to try to bring some of that back," White said.
The Mall has "an outdated look, and retailers are looking for fresh space, an updated space," he said.
According to the agreement with the city, projects in phase one must be completed and paid for by July 1, 2016.
If the phase one projects aren't completed on time, Dial Properties, the developer, won't receive the tax proceeds. It will then go to the city.
Projects in phase two, including landscaping and entrance renovations, must be completed and paid for by Dec. 31, 2016.
The city of Hays would not be responsible for the loan.
"As we see improvements, I hope people will give The Mall a chance and take a look at what they are doing," White said.