Council hears proposal for new liquor store locale

MARSHALL – Marshall needs to consider more than just the basics in building a new municipal liquor store, city officials said at a city council work session Tuesday. The store needs to be a good draw for customers. One suggestion presented at the meeting: rent out space next door to a specialty food business. A local business owner told council members she’d be interested in being the city’s tenant.

“I would like to throw my hat in the ring,” said Roberta Wyatt, owner of the Daily Grind coffee shop in Marshall. Wyatt said she’s been looking for space to expand her business.

However, the proposal drew mixed reactions from council members. While some said they liked the possibility for economic development the arrangement could bring, others said they were “100 percent against” taking action that would compete against private property owners.

“We are not in the landlord business,” said council member Mike Boedigheimer.

The current municipal liquor store has outgrown its current store location on East College Drive, city officials say. The city has bought land to serve as the location for a new liquor store and is in the process of planning and designing the building project.

At this point, said Marshall City Administrator Ben Martig, “We’re really looking more at space” and how a new liquor store could be configured. But in choosing a layout, council members and should consider different ways to draw in and connect with customers in a range of demographics. Martig said he was looking for council members’ feedback.

Martig presented two possible plans at Tuesday’s work session. Both plans would locate the store on land along Boyer Drive, near the Pizza Ranch, and include about 12,500 square feet of space for expanded off-sale inventory, coolers and warehousing, Martig said. However, one option would add a separate commercial space across a shared foyer from the liquor store. Martig said this space could possibly be rented out to another business, ideally one that complemented the liquor store.

A specialty food-related business might be a good fit, providing an added draw to customers, as well as offering opportunities to showcase local and regionally-produced products, Martig said.

Wyatt said if the city chose to lease out space near a new liquor store, she would be interested in renting it. Wyatt said she’s been looking for a location that would allow her to expand the Daily Grind.

“I’m ready to move. I’d like to do more things,” Wyatt said. She also has an interest in showcasing locally-grown ingredients and food products. “I see this as being kind of a hole in the market, something that I can fill.”

Martig said a tentative timeline for the liquor store project would include a design and financial review in late March, with construction beginning in July.

Some council members said they liked the idea of a complementing business next door to the liquor store.

“It could be a good addition to our town,” council member Ellayne Conyers said.

However, council members Boedigheimer and Glenn Bayerkohler said it would not be appropriate for the city to lease commercial space in competition with private owners.

“It should be an off-sale liquor store,” and only a liquor store, Boedigheimer said of the building. He added that there are already plenty of vacant properties available for development in Marshall.

“I would like to hear a lot of community input on this,” Bayerkohler said.

Martig said he wanted to take some time to consider the council’s feedback, since there wasn’t a clear consensus from council members. He said he would update council members on the direction of the planning process next week.