City acquires Kmart site

A view of Kmart from across Lake Street. File photo

The City of Minneapolis officially became Kmart’s landlord last month, purchasing the site at 10 W. Lake St. from investors for $8 million.

But that’s the only piece of news, according to David Frank, the city’s interim director of Community Planning and Economic Development. Kmart has 36 years remaining on its lease.

The acquisition is part of a long-term goal to reconnect Nicollet Avenue through the site.

Restrictions tied to the property require Kmart’s approval of any new redevelopment next door at the vacant Supervalu site. Although Kmart rejected a proposal in the past, Frank said city officials will try again to find agreement.

“What the city has now acquired — that we’ve never had before — is certainty that the street will be there and the development will happen,” he said. “We just, of course, don’t know when.”

He said the city is not currently pursuing acquisition of other nearby parcels of land.

Businesses on Eat Street are bracing for potential gentrification that could come with reopening the street and redeveloping Lake & Nicollet. City staff who spent time with entrepreneurs heard requests for small spaces, reasonable rents, and opportunities to purchase their buildings.

In response, city officials are exploring the idea of a pilot program aimed to reduce displacement of small businesses near Lake & Nicollet owned by immigrants and people of color. The program would offer advice on topics like marketing, property purchases and leases in large projects. City staff have also suggested addressing displacement in city plans for the area, and focusing on small business when soliciting redevelopment proposals.

The 2018 budget includes $50,000 for a Commercial Land Trust Pilot to identify properties that might be candidates for ownership in a land trust.