Regional Enclosed Malls
The first was a planned chain of regional enclosed regional shopping centers that never materialized.
Century Mall was to be a chain of shopping centers developed by Denver-based Century 21 Corp. (unaffiliated with today’s national brokerage firm) across eight cities, including four in North Dakota: Bismarck, Fargo, Minot, and Grand Forks. Other malls were to be located in Sioux Falls, Aberdeen, and Rapid City of South Dakota, as well as Fort Collins, Colorado.
All of the malls were to be called Century Mall and share a similar design. Except for its Colorado mall, each was expected to span about 600,000 square feet with three anchors and roughly 50 total stores, costing about $11 million. The Fort Collins mall was to be smaller – at $8 million, but incorporate an adjacent 7-story office and bank complex.
At the time of the initial announcement, several tenants were already attached to the projects, including in Bismarck. Sites had already been secured in all cities, except Fargo and Sioux Falls. In Minot, the center was to be located off U.S. Highway 83 about five miles south of the Air Force Base – near present-day Dakota Square Mall. In Grand Forks, the center was to be located on U.S. 81, south of 32nd Avenue South – near present-day Columbia Mall. By February 1969, a site was chosen for Fargo as well, in the Crossroads division. The chosen Sioux Falls site was to be west of Kiwanis Avenue near 12th Street.
Bismarck’s Century Mall
The Bismarck mall was announced in October 1968. It was to be located on the west side of U.S. Highway 83 near I-94, “northwest of the new Gulf station.” Century Mall was expected to open in 1970. The mall’s announcement came only one month after the announcement of Kirkwood Plaza, which did open in 1970.
Within a month of the announcement, plans for Bismarck’s mall were upgraded to 650,000 square feet to meet high demand. By comparison, Kirkwood’s original footprint was 422,053 square feet and Gateway’s 320,000, dwarfed in comparison to Century Mall.
Efforts progressed to officially platting the development and outlining streets. Contrary to today, Gateway Avenue was to extend all the way to 4th Street
Tenants were secured as well, many of whom later occupy Gateway Mall. White Drug, Orange Julius, Maurices, K.G. Men’s, and J.M. McDonald Co. were confirmed occupants. In fact, a classified was placed in the Bismarck Tribune recruiting a manager for Orange Julius’s upcoming Century Mall location in May 1969.
Despite that sites and tenants were secured, it appears that none of the malls ever materialized. Land was even platted and streets lined out for the development in Bismarck.
At the time of the announcement, sites had already been secured in all cities, except Fargo and Sioux Falls. By February 1969, a site was chosen for Fargo as well, in the Crossroads division.
In July, the company exercised its option in Grand Forks to formerly acquire land for development. Those plans were contradicted when Century 21 acquired Grand Fork’s South Forks Center in November. Rather than build a new Century Mall, the company announced it would convert the existing mall into the Century Mall, including adding a third anchor. This was the second of the eight cities in which Century 21 purchased an existing mall.
In Bismarck, Century 21 hadn’t formerly purchased land as of July 1969 and no further plans are ever announced beyond 1970. By 1973, the Kavaney family – owners of the land – proceeded with new development efforts, including re-platting and annexation. Gateway Mall would ultimately be developed – albeit at a significantly reduced footprint – roughly ten years later… officially opening in September 1979.
Nearby Century Avenue’s similar name is by coincidence only.
The second is a current strip mall on the southeast corner of Century Avenue and Washington Street anchored by a freestanding Loaf ‘N Jug (originally Mini Mart). As of 2018, the mall’s other tenants include Domino’s Pizza, Edward Jones, Family Vision Clinic, and Hair of the Century. Deluxe Cleaners and Century Video (later Century Video and Coffee Shop, then Century Video and Tanning) were long-time former tenants.
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