Sears to buy Lake Street K-Mart

Sears' Sept. 29 purchase of the K-Mart at 10 W. Lake St. might complicate the hoped-for reopening of Nicollet Avenue, which currently dead-ends between 29th and Lake streets at the site.

The company, which will purchase 49 other K-Marts nationwide, has said it will renovate its stores rather than rebuilt them, according to city Community Planning Supervisor Pam Miner.

The only way for Nicollet to be reopened is if the current building is torn down and rebuilt elsewhere on the site.

That's the hope of a consortium of city and neighborhood groups, who will unveil a land-use plan in November, said Bill Smith of Biko Associates, the group's consultant. Making Nicollet a through street would connect south-of-Lake neighborhoods with Eat Street, the popular restaurant row north of the current K-Mart. It would also help reduce traffic congestion from Blaisdell Avenue to 10th Avenue South, according to Smith.

Said Miner, "Any plan that says we want to reopen the street obviously is not going to happen right away. The city's goals and the neighborhood's goals for the future may not agree with the Sears Corp."

City Councilmember Dean Zimmermann said he and his colleagues agree that Nicollet Avenue should be reopened. He is taking an upbeat view.

"This is the most optimistic I've felt about opening up Nicollet for a long time. That somebody who is not in bankruptcy now owns the property is a good thing. We think that we can create a nice situation for them," Zimmermann said.

Zimmermann said the council has not had any talks with Sears about the initiative but that Mayor R.T. Rybak would make the initial contact for the city.