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.