Asian Media Access among partners aiming to bring new life to former Sears site

The former Sears building near the Minnesota State Capitol could soon see some new life after sitting vacant for five years.

In the span of a month, the property was sold twice. Asian Media Access purchased the 17-acre property for $8.2 million from Pacifica St. Paul LLC, which bought the property for $7 million back in May. 

John Yang, executive director for Asian American Business Resilience Network, says they are collaborating with Asian Media Access to reignite the old building site. He says renovations could cost up to $20 million. 

“We had our eyes set on this for I’d say a couple of years,” Yang said. “We are looking to split up the lot and open up to investors and other people for other partnerships and collaborations as well.”

The group envisions the site will turn into a community hub with a mix of businesses including a food court, a charter school, a Zen garden, a sports complex and more. The two-story building has more than 180,000 square feet, and Yang says engineers and architects are currently evaluating to see if the building can be preserved. 

Beyond the facility, there are plans to build affordable housing, but Yang says before any redevelopment can happen, it must be approved by the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board. 

“I know it’s a historical project and it’s going to have an impact for generations to come,” Yang said. “Our focus is to really bring together communities with diverse background cultures.” 

Yang says their mission is to change lives, especially for those who are underserved. 

The hope is that the redevelopment process can start next year with the goal of completing the project in two to three years. In the meantime, community engagement sessions will be held biweekly. Yang will host the first session over Zoom on Thursday at 5 p.m. 

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Asian Media Access owns Asia Mall in Eden Prairie.