GRAND ISLAND, Neb. -- The Grand Island City Council is authorizing the redevelopment and rezoning of the Conestoga Mall project. 

According to Regional Planning Director Chad Nabity, today’s meeting was the next step in the approval  of the mall redevelopment  project. The council authorized the use of tax increment financing and created an enhanced employment area, which would add a 1.5% occupation tax on all sales at the mall. Those sources could raise about $70 million over 30 years.

The council also approved the rezoning with an amended development plan that calls for tearing down portions of the existing mall and building some out lots along Highway 281 and 13th St.

Nabity says the changes will take place over three years and will benefit the city. 

“Over the last several years with the retail market and the loss of Sears, and Penneys and Younkers that ’s really hurt that mall and really hurt the retail draw in Grand Island. Redeveloping this should reinvigorate that and give people a reason to come back to Grand Island and hopefully spend lots of money," Nabity said. 

The next step for the city is to approve the contract for the tax increment financing and enhanced employment area. 

Woodsonia is the developer. Partner Mitch Holland  says they planned a total redevelopment of the 68 acre parcel that will feature new retailers and just a new overall updated offering. 

“We think this is going to be a long term community asset. It's one of the most important retail corridors. We have a unique opportunity to really revitalize an area that’s in important to Grand Island," Holland says. 

The developers plan to be at the city council meeting on December 6. They hope to start the project in 2023.