Thinking Big: Partnerships Add Their Insight to Sears Redevelopment Site

09/03—When Sears closed its massive retail and distribution center in the heart of south Minneapolis in 1994, it signaled the end of the era of old-guard commerce that once made Lake Street a prime draw in the regional economy. Today, hope for sustaining Lake Street’s comeback as a 21st Century urban corridor rests heavily on the redevelopment of the former Sears complex. 

The city acquired the property in 2001 after previous attempts by private owners to convert the site fell through. In trying to ensure that its bid to redevelop the landmark would meet with financial success and community acceptance, the city council asked the Midtown Community Works Partnership and the Phillips Partnership to offer comments on four proposals received from local developers in June 2003. 

These partnerships, whose members include elected officials and executives of leading business and community interests, have contributed significantly to revitalization in the neighborhood for several years and were recognized by the city as major stakeholders. 

In an effort culminating in September 2003, the partnerships worked jointly to offer the Minneapolis Department of Community Planning and Economic Development and city council a rigorous evaluation of the merits of each proposal and a resolution articulating a set of priorities that the redevelopment should embrace in its financing, community presence and site planning. 

Following the recommendation of the planning department, city councilawarded development rights to Ryan Companies on October 24. The developer has 60 days to finalize an agreement with the city.