Minneapolis buys THAT Kmart, plans to reopen Nicollet Avenue

Kmart's been blocking north-south traffic in this neighborhood since 1977.

Kmart's been blocking north-south traffic in this neighborhood since 1977. Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

One of the Twin Cities' stranger boondoggles in urban planning might soon come to an end.

News broke Thursday that the city of Minneapolis has a deal in place to buy the Kmart at the intersection of Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue in south Minneapolis. The store's location brings north-south traffic to an abrupt halt for several blocks, and has since it opened in 1977.

The city plans to demolish it and reopen Nicollet Avenue to traffic, the Star Tribune reports, with an expected closure of the store "on or before June 30," according to a city statement on the deal. 

The city is offering $9.1 million to buy Kmart's owners—a holding company that owns the dying embers of that chain as well as Sears—out of a long-term lease that ran through 2053. Minneapolis purchased the land under the store for about $8 million in 2017, and has been in continual negotiations with the retail chain's owners for years to purchase the space.

Because Kmart's building was paid for and it knew Minneapolis was desirous of the space, the retailer had leverage, at one point rejecting the city's offer to subsidize construction of a new store in the same place that would allow traffic to flow.

"Reopening Nicollet Avenue at Lake Street has been a major City and community priority for decades," reads an announcement of the deal. 

After years of anticipation, things are about to start happening pretty fast. The proposal will get its first public airing in a city council subcommittee meeting on Monday, with a vote from the full council scheduled for Friday, March 13. If approved, the store would be demolished "later this year," says the announcement.

No tentative date was suggested Thursday as to when the road would be in use.

"Reopening [Nicollet] will reconnect neighborhoods, reestablish the street grid and set the stage for new development on 10 acres of land currently home to single-story retail buildings and surface parking lots," says the city announcement.