In a special work session prior to Tuesday's regular Richfield City Council meeting, members of both the council and the Housing and Redevelopment Authority heard an updated proposal from Steve Wellington, Jr., president of Wellington Management, Inc., regarding the development of the currently vacant property located at 66th Street and Lyndale Avenue.
Known to many Richfield residents as the former Kmart property, the downtown real estate stood vacant for approximately eighteen months before the city council in April 2011.
Wellington reported that his company had signed an agreement to purchase the property two months ago, and has been moving to fill it with prospective tenants. LA Fitness is already committed to the site, while Wellington reported that his company was also close to a deal with Fratallone's Ace Hardware.
"[LA Fitness] is anxious to be here," he told those in attendance.
Wellington estimated that his company had signed or was close to signing letters of intent with stores that would occupy approximately half of the redevelopment's retail space.
"[In addition], I'd say we're at the stage of serious negotiations for about another quarter of the [retail] space as well," he said.
Several officials at the work session expressed fears about inadequate parking at the redeveloped property.
Also, it was unclear how the redevelopment would deal with a "parcel" of green space located at the corner of 66th Street and Lyndale Avenue, land the redevelopment's plans currently subsume. It's possible the city would simply deed the property to Wellington Management Inc. should the redevelopment move forward.
While Wellington explained that his firm's plans also include a rental property designed to house a restaurant, it's unclear how attractive the space would be to either a chain or independent restaurant.
Regardless of the concerns, Wellington said he was pleased with the work session.
"It's always good to visit with public officials in Richfield," he said. "They've always been very helpful."
In other business, the city council held an additional work session to address the possibility of building a community bandshell in Richfield. Potential locations under consideration are the Lyndale Garden Center, currently being redeveloped by The Cornerstone Group, as well as (where the bandshell would be built just southeast of of the ).
The council also discussed the possibility of signing a contract with a single garbage collection service provider for Richfield. While designating one trash collector for the entire city would potentially improve public safety and lessen the impact heavy trash collection trucks have on paved roads, Council Member Fred Wroge in particular expressed reservations about the potentially negative effect such a monopoly might have on cost savings in the city.