The Big Store is no more.
Construction crews began tearing down the large vacant building, originally called the Big Store but later renamed the DaVall Building, in downtown Columbia Falls.
Mick Ruis, a prominent local developer and philanthropist, purchased the empty building a year ago and is replacing it with a three-story retail and apartment complex.
He told the Beacon he plans to lease out the first floor to a retail business. The second and third floors will feature 24 apartment units, 12 on each floor, he said. He said construction on the property would begin in spring.
Ruis is also developing an eight-unit condominium building on Nucleus Avenue next to the Park Merc Building and Columbia Bar. He said he would submit plans to the city for that development next week with construction beginning soon.
The two new developments are the latest for the busy developer, who constructed the 25,000-square-foot Cedar Creek Lodge. Recently, he donated roughly $45,000 to pay for lighting equipment and a new scoreboard at the Columbia Falls High School soccer field.
Ruis purchased several pieces of property in Columbia Falls in recent years and previously said he hoped to possibly develop a lineup of businesses, including a pie factory and steakhouse sports bar. In light of all of his other developments, as well as running his company, American Scaffold, the largest scaffolding company in the U.S., he said he has put those plans on hold.
“I think I’m going to try to see what someone else wants to do,” he said of development ideas for his other properties. “I just don’t have time to manage so much stuff.”
Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.