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Clayton Jensby (front) and Brad Reiner catch bins as they are put down a slide constructed at Lifehouse Church Wednesday as they begin to move out of the Imperial Mall.

After nearly half a century in business, the Imperial Mall will be closing its doors at the end of the month.

Once a thriving home to more than 30 businesses, mall occupants have dwindled over the years until only one business and one church now remain. It has changed hands several times through the years and is currently owned by Namdar Realty Group of Great Neck, New York.

Alyssa Sanders, deputy state fire marshal and public information officer for the Nebraska State Fire Marshal’s Office, said her office has been told by the mall owner that all of the tenants have received eviction notices and the building will be closed by the end of May.

The Nebraska State Fire Marshal’s Office had been working with the mall owners to provide extra time to repair code deficiencies, which included replacing ceiling tiles and updating the sprinkler system and emergency lighting, discovered during a five-year inspection in January. Originally, fire marshals gave mall owners a deadline of Feb. 22 to fix the violations but offered extensions as long as progress was being made.

Namdar has now told the fire marshals they would close the building and Sanders said current occupants must vacate the building by June 1. Signs are to be posted at the entrances noting the closure.

Impending closure is forcing the current occupants, Napoli’s Italian Restaurant and Lifehouse Church, to seek new locations.

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Brian Montgomery moves a pallet of bins from Lifehouse Church to an empty store in the Imperial Mall as church members begin the moving process.

Napoli’s Italian Restaurant has yet to make a decision about its future. The owners are still looking for options to remain in Hastings as they want to continue serving the community.

“We are still in the process of we have to see where we are going to move,” said manager Tony Ragipi.

Lifehouse Church is making plans to move to another location, but leaders were hoping for more time before being forced to move.

Pastor Brett Mackey said the church has signed a purchase agreement to buy the building where Paul Spady Buick Motors Inc. is currently located at 2850 Osborne Drive East.

After it became apparent that the church would need to leave the mall, Mackey said Paul Spady approached him about purchasing the building now housing the dealership as a new home for the church. The deal is contingent on a number of factors and there is no timeline on when the purchase will become finalized. The church is also seeking a conditional use permit to use the building as a place of assembly.

Until the transaction is finalized and renovations are complete, the church will meet at the 18th Street YMCA, 1220 W. 18th St.

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Items from Lifehouse Church are placed into an empty store as they begin to move out of the Imperial Mall Wednesday.

“If it wasn’t for us being chased out of here, we’d be staying,” Mackey said. “It’s hard to leave something you spent so much time working on. It’s a bit surreal.”

While the building may seem unconventional, he said it was the best option they could find on such short notice. He said it’s a scary step for the church, but he is stepping out in faith.

“I feel like God is directing our steps,” he said. “He’s taken us to that place and I believe He has a plan.”

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