Minneapolis City Council approves Kmart lease buyout

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On Friday, Minneapolis City Council took a major step toward demolition of the old Kmart building at Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue. The council agreed to buy out the remaining Kmart lease so the city can re-develop the 10-acre lot.

Since 1977, it's been a crucial part of this neighborhood for many.

"It's very convenient, very convenient for people," said Juan Ayalo, who lives in the neighborhood.

But the days of the Kmart building are now officially numbered.

"I don't like that because it's the biggest store around the neighborhood," Ayalo said.

On Friday, Minneapolis City Council voted to give city staff the green light to spend just more than $9.1 million to end Kmart's lease, which was set to expire in 2053, on or before June 30. That money is coming from the city's streetcar value capture fund.

"There is extraordinary opportunity," said Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender.

This idea is hardly news to a lot of people because the city first talked about acquiring the lot in 1998.

Minneapolis to buy Kmart lease, reopen Nicollet, pending council approval

"I think all of us are so excited to imagine the future of this site," Bender said.

Now, the specific planning for what the area will look like can begin.

"That is the primary goal here, is to re-connect the streets, reconnect the neighborhood and the business districts," said Rebecca Parrell, Project Supervisor for the city of Minneapolis.

Rebecca Parrell is the city's project supervisor. She said while they are in the early stages of what exactly will replace Kmart, they do have ideas.

"We'll likely see a lot of affordable housing, as well as commercial and retail uses on the first floor," Parrell said.

Some who shop at the Kmart every week do have concerns.

"We need it, we need it," Ayalo said.

But city leaders stressed that they're listening to the public.

"We'll want to make sure that we prepare something for new businesses to come in that can provide those goods," Parrell said.

Demolition is set to begin later this year, and while the city is asking for patience for a period of planning and construction, many are excited for new opportunities.

"Who knows for the future what it can hold, great things can happen," said Zonia Espinoza, who lives in the neighborhood.