Revitalization of Big Box Retail Stores
There have been a lot of questions and comments lately about the redevelopment of some of the big box stores in the City of Blaine. In recent years, the city has seen Kmart, Rainbow Foods, Gander Mountain, and Best Buy (Highway 65) close, and Walmart change locations (the Village). These actions have left behind large empty buildings and the public wondering what will happen to these stores. Online retail sales have changed the nature of how shopping works and some big box stores cannot handle the change and are forced to close. In the case of Blaine, many of these empty buildings have been successfully changed into multi-tenant retail buildings.
The city is in contact with many real estate brokers regarding potential users for these buildings, but essentially, the city lets the market dictate what happens in these big boxes and then collaborates with building owners to see how redevelopment may be assisted, either financially or through the city approval processes. It is not in the city’s, or neighborhoods’, best interest for these buildings to sit empty for a long period of time, so when the city is approached with a viable option for reuse, it works to make sure the end product of redevelopment fits well in a neighborhood. Whenever possible the city works to ensure the building ends up looking nice, meets city codes and provides screening wherever it is necessary. The former Kmart is a good example of big box redevelopment where the city collaborated with the new owner of the building to do facade renovations, parking lot improvements, and a rework of the screening wall on the north side of the site.