Parks Marina Inc. purchases Central Emporium at Okoboji

Central Emporium, a historic lakefront mall that has overlooked West Lake Okoboji for more than a century, has been purchased by Okoboji-based Parks Marina Inc., a Boating Industry Top 100 dealer, according to the Sioux City Journal.

Built in 1901, the Emporium currently features 26 shopping and dining venues, many that have existed at the location for years. The property officially came under Parks Marina’s ownership Monday.

Butch Parks, owner of Parks Marina, said the property is fully rented out and provides a valuable addition to the company’s entertainment businesses.

“Central Emporium is possibly the busiest place at the Lakes,” Parks said. “It’s kind of a neat area, it’s a great tourist attraction and it’s right on the water.”

Parks said the Emporium provides a valuable addition to the company not only because of its tourism draw, but also because of its history. Parks Marina also owns Okoboji Boat Works on West Okoboji Lake, which dates back to 1890.

“We have a couple other really, really old things and want to preserve the old ways,” Parks said.

Parks said since Central Emporium provides ample docking space for boats, his future plans include running cruises from its docks using the marina’s ships.

Parks Marina has also assumed management of The Gardens, a bar, restaurant and live entertainment venue in the lower level of Central Emporium.

Parks said some of the Central Emporium’s stores have begun opening on the weekends. He said the Gardens will open for the summer on May 20.

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