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Richfield City Council Hears Initial Plans for Redevelopment of Kmart Property

The Richfield City Council holds a special work session to hear preliminary plans for the Kmart site, other development projects.

Sears Holdings Corp. closed the doors to its Richfield Kmart store about a year and a half ago and now the owners of the vacant property have agreed to sell it to St. Paul-based real estate management and development company, Wellington Management, Inc.

Steve Wellington, Jr., president of Wellington Management, Inc., presented the company’s initial plans for the Kmart site during a special Richfield City Council work session Tuesday night to somewhat mixed reviews.

Wellington said that after more than a year of negotiating with property owners, they expected to close on the property in four to six weeks and wanted to begin construction this year.

So what are the initial plans?

While the development company didn't have any plans when it began negotiating and then later thought it would rehabilitate at least part of the existing structure, after its purchase was approved it found that it was better to demolish the building and start over.

Three new structures are part of the current plan. Wellington said that two of three buildings have interested tenants and builders, including LA Fitness and Goodwill Industries, simply known as Goodwill to most.

As for the third building, Wellington said the company is interested in finding a casual dining restaurant, but would also consider some other retailer. He also noted that the company was trying to create a plan that was “as urban as possible” to fit with the city’s and residents' vision for the area.

While the entire city council was excited to see preliminary plans for the space, some were more supportive of all the pieces of the plan than others.

Mayor Debbie Goettel said that she was “underwhelmed” by the idea of having a Goodwill in downtown Richfield, especially since it was so close to another Goodwill, which is on American Boulevard and Lyndale Avenue in Bloomington.

“I’m just not sure that it’s the right place for [Goodwill],” Goettel said. “When I’m looking at the long-range vision of a downtown area and I’m just not sure that’s the place for it.”

Goettel went on to encourage Wellington to work with the and The Cornerstone Group, which is , to fine-tune the plan.

In other business, the council heard a presentation from a representative of the Three Rivers Park District about the proposed Intercity Trail system and another presentation from Jeff Pearson, a Richfield transportation engineer, about MnDOT's plans for Interstate 494. More information about these projects will come in a later article.

Richfield Patch will continue to update readers on the progress of the Kmart site project.

Karen Kopesky April 13, 2011 at 09:25 PM
Totally agree with your opinion Susan
Mary Barnes April 13, 2011 at 11:39 PM
I agree with most of the above. Wellington, back off, and give our Mayor a break. We want peace and quiet. Leave the noise in Bloomington. Talk to Best Buy, corporation, Richfield can tackle most anything, but we will not, bow to huge corporations. that car dealership that use to be in Richfield. Went to Bloomington, and bought out all that they could. and that would be WALSER.
Mary Barnes April 13, 2011 at 11:46 PM
That is why I buy my cars at Freeway Ford.
Jeff April 14, 2011 at 05:38 AM
I think the LA Fitness and restaurant would be great! Goodwill... not so much. However I am excited to see this area redeveloped and any new business there would be better than a vacant building
Gordon Hanson April 14, 2011 at 05:39 AM
Just one followup to my earlier post on this subject. I am very pleased progress is being made with regard to the Kmart site. And I have no problem with any of the mentioned tenants. I just hope the proposal is enhanced to fully maximize the potential for a prime parcel of Richfield real estate. What we have now is a good starting point. Let's negotiate for the benefit of Richfield.
Pat Elliott April 14, 2011 at 01:16 PM
I have to admit to being somewhat disappointed in comments regarding Goodwill being included in Wellington's proposal for the K-mart site. If I didn't know better, as a resident of Richfield for in excess of 50 years, I would suspect an element of eltism or "'not in my backyard" sentiment being expressed. I suppose we could "negotiate" for something more uopsacle i.e. Restoration Harwdare, Barnes & Noble, etc but they are in or close to bankruptcy, like many others given the economic climate. Wellington came to Richfield with a proposal, which did not inlcude a hand out for TIF or anyhting else, and it is being suggested we are getting short changed. I happen to think differently.
Kay Nelson April 14, 2011 at 03:23 PM
I'm surprised that CVS didn't claim that property rather than the one on Penn and 66th. Lyndale Avenue is one of the "doorways" to our community and we want to keep this in mind with whatever that address is used for in the future.
Dan Jegtvig April 14, 2011 at 03:44 PM
In response to Mr. Elliot's comment. First, I appreciate and thank you for your service on our city council and have been supportive of your position on many issues during your tenure. That being said I certainly don't believe that being non-supportive of a business such as Goodwill is either discriminatory or “elitist” and I’m certainly not insinuating "not in my backyard" regarding the idea. I apologize if my comment was perceived that way. As a matter of fact I patronize Arc’s and have also been to the Goodwill in Bloomington. I am, however, saying that I don't believe there needs to be another one located within 2 miles of each other, especially at this particular site in a prime "downtown" location as Richfield has very few. I believe it should be developed with the “best neighbor” use for the adjoining and adjacent businesses within the four block radius being kept in mind while considering their clientele. I also believe there is a more amenable business to consider which will attract people from within as well as outside of the Richfield community to this particularly busy location. I think Richfield deserves that.
Gordon Hanson April 14, 2011 at 04:41 PM
Here's why the Kmart proposal leaves me somewhat underwhelmed. The proposal seems to underuse a parcel of land in what's commonly thought of as Richfield's "downtown." There needs to be more at that site in addition to the uses proposed. Perhaps a residential component. Or more commercial. The problem isn't the proposed tenant mix. The problem is that it doesn't do enough of that we should expect at that location. The artist drawings presented to the council show three nice buildings surrounded by a sea of surface parking. But they look just like three nice buildings you might see in Maple Grove ... or Woodbury ... or Mankato ... or St. Cloud ...or Fargo. The overall concept does little to add to the character of our community. This is in contrast to The Cornerstone Group proposal at the Lyndale Garden Center site that does exactly that with community-building amenities and features. I'm glad Wellington is on board as a contributor to Richfield's future. Let's just be strong advocates for what's best for Richfield. Negotiation is not a bad thing. It's simply the process of developing a stronger partnership and a better outcome for all parties involved.
Pat Elliott April 14, 2011 at 05:02 PM
I'm open to suggestions as to what a "more amenable" business may be, and also to improving the overall concept. But we need tangible ideas and partners to move forward not concepts and visions, so give me names and/or contacts and I will bring the message to Wellington. Pat
Dan Jegtvig April 14, 2011 at 05:23 PM
Pat, I believe that is a very fair statement. I will certainly give more thought to that now that this blog has provided a forum for comments and ideas to spark more thought and debate. I think Richfield Patch has provided a valuable community service for the realtime exchange of thoughts and ideas than has been available to the community-at-large previously. I will put effort into trying to provide some tangible ideas. Thanks for being open to them!
Caitlin Burgess (Editor) April 14, 2011 at 05:28 PM
I want a sushi restaurant!
Dan Jegtvig April 14, 2011 at 05:39 PM
Caitlin, I am sooooo with you on that one!! :D
Caitlin Burgess (Editor) April 14, 2011 at 05:43 PM
Right? The closest place to get GOOD sushi is in Uptown - which is always packed. The Osaka in Bloomington is OK, but not the best I've ever had. Put that on the list Pat!
Claire Killian April 14, 2011 at 06:15 PM
A downtown has cute shops, quaint restaurants that are inexpensive. We could put a Patina and a Breadsmith in that spot -or a Buffalo Wild Wings. I think that a Trader Joes would also be great!
Brie Shultz April 14, 2011 at 07:07 PM
I don't think it is elitism, its more that we already have Value Village in Richfield and a Goodwill and a Savers on the Bloomington border. For that matter, isn't there a Bally Total Fitness in the Hub? It seems that Richfield's answers to retail development lately seems to duplicate whatever is on the Edina/Bloomington borders: CVS (less than 1 mile from the Edina location going up), Target, Home Depot to name a few. I suppose these are fine, but I often hear how the City Council wants Richfield to be unique and have it's own reasons why people would want to visit Richfield. You don't get that by offering the same exact retail experiences as your neighboring communities. Let's take some chances and challenge developers to add some retail/commercial properties that Richfield residents CAN'T find in a 4 mile radius (a Sushi Tango, or heck, even a Chick-Fil-A). I think Blockbuster is about finished as a brick and mortar retail space. I'm sure a Good Will will be able to move in there.
Caitlin Burgess (Editor) April 14, 2011 at 07:57 PM
OK, I love all those ideas, especially the Trader Joes! Thanks Claire.
Jake Rappe April 14, 2011 at 09:17 PM
There are seemingly limitless possibilities for this building, not the least of which would be for the VFW to move into part of the building since they got a bit of a raw deal when the city redeveloped Lakeshore. However, I feel a prudent route would be to really dress up the outside facade and turn the building into a reception hall, there are a lot of churches not only in Richfield, but north Bloomington and south Minneapolis, why should Richfield lose business to the hotels along 494?
Claire Killian April 14, 2011 at 09:22 PM
This could also be a roller rink, a skate board park or a Grand Slam with batting cages and laser tag. It's important that we have for our kids. It's one of the many great ideas posted here today.
Mary Barnes April 14, 2011 at 10:07 PM
Pat Elliott, I helped you get elected. How could you tell Sue, What do you want? A Barnes & Noble? I had a long talk with the Chamber, Steve L. Believe it or not, the people in this community know exactly what they want. I would suggest to all of our paid council, to start listening, because elections are not far behind. At this time, Fred Wroege, and T. Fitzhenry would get my vote. Nuff said. Mary Hildreth Barnes
Mary Barnes April 14, 2011 at 11:41 PM
Jake Rappe, class of 2001! Another awesome Richfield grad. did you ever become a policeman? Good to hear from you, keep writing. Cheleys mom...
Mary Barnes April 14, 2011 at 11:42 PM
Chelseys, great, now the mom does not know how to spell the daughters name. Grad from Bloomington, no spell, no math. what can I say?
Mary Barnes April 15, 2011 at 12:20 AM
Trader Joe's and fantastic Chinese...David Fongs? Not a raw fish fan. sorry. I will be a new employee at Sea Salt. Minnehaha Park. Open April-September. Another idea for Richfield. Outdoor dining, funky music, lights. Park, water, light rail, ok, stop me. No light rail in Richfield. Only those aweful MTC buses. Unlike Apple Valley, cushy seats. Fresh fruit, asparagus, spinach leaves.... and my fav. strawberries.
Mike April 17, 2011 at 04:19 PM
To the point of LA Fitness, there is a Ballys fitness within walking distance of the k-mart site - literary across the railroad tracks. That kind of makes Arc value village and another goodwill, both over a mile away a mute point. Here is the way I see it. With more and more people needing goods at a lower price-point, businesses like value village and goodwill are growing and will continue to grow for quite some time. Some of the people that use these businesses do not have the best transportation options, so convenient location is important. Many people go to the hub and shop at say marshals, so being close to the hub is a very convenient location. In addition to that, the area has I would guess well over 300 apartment units and more to come as the development across from the lyndale garden center. I think of LA fitness as a more upscale fitness center than ballys; much like lifetime; so I think that would be a good fit for Richfield. The thing to watch out for is that fitness centers use a lot of parking.
Tracy Hollenback April 30, 2011 at 02:06 PM
I agree with Dan and Brie's comments and ideas. I really like the idea of Trader Joe's! Is there someone working to invite certain businesses in that we think are a good fit for Richfield? Or, do we wait for companies to show up with proposals?
Mary Barnes April 30, 2011 at 08:48 PM
Yes to Trader Joe's! How about Nelsons Pie shop, remember them? Or, a nice ice cream shop, hmm, maybe I'll open up the ice cream shop! Or my husbands dream, a rolling hot dog wagon, like on the "East Coast" Or, a coffee and wine bar, or a small cozy Italian restaurant, or French. Just no more yuppy stores. sorry, had to say it.
Robert S June 16, 2011 at 08:29 PM
Richfield is certainly missing locally owned dining options, in addition to outdoor dining options. I'd like the city to go after the type of business Minneapolis has, not Bloomington or Edina. We're urban, let's let the suburbs have their chains and cookie cutter stores.
Mary Barnes June 16, 2011 at 10:53 PM
I agree with Robert, although, since I grew up in Bloomington, some of the "city" is ok, mostly Lyndale, south, to 98th St. I do not want "Edina", I can get my passport, and jump the border into Edina. We are urban, and I agree, lets stay urban, we love to walk, bike, run, enjoy our Nature Center, families love to walk to our Dairy Queens, yes, we have two. Please, no more chains, or cookie cutter stores. Been there, done that, now what? We have our own "mini" lakes, right here in Richfield. We are not giving there locations, because, we want them for just us. :)
Richfielder March 19, 2012 at 04:11 PM
I am curious as to whether or not the old red bricks covering Kmart can be reused. I would love to have some. If anyone knows who I can contact, I would appreciate the help.
Caitlin Burgess (Editor) March 19, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Hmmm. I don't know if they will be reused. I was just told today that the steel would be recycled. Here is a link to the developer's contact page: http://wellingtonmgt.com/contact/ They should be able to let you know!

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