Minneapolis officials celebrate as Nicollet Ave. reconnection moves closer to reality

The end is in sight for the former Kmart store in south Minneapolis. Soon, for the first time in decades, Minneapolis’ Nicollet Avenue will be reconnected, and many in the community could not be happier about that.

"At long last Minneapolis: a multi-decade, multi-generation dream for our city is coming true," Mayor Jacob Frey said on Sunday. Several city council members joined him, as he delivered the news that so many have been waiting to hear: Nicollet Avenue will soon open back up to cars and pedestrians.

City council president Andrea Jenkins believes the change will breathe new life into the area, "This is going to transform the entirety of south Minneapolis," Jenkins said. It’s a decision that’s been decades in the making. The shopping complex went up in the 1970s, but not long after, locals began to push for change, saying the building cut their community in half and blocked off a major artery in south Minneapolis.

Thereafter, several city administrations were involved in complicated negotiations to acquire the building and lease from a group of three partners.

Now, work to demolish the building will begin on Nov. 6, a date that was moved up after a large fire at the building this month. 

City leaders say an investigation into the cause of the fire has been closed, without any criminal charges, because the findings were inconclusive.

"Unfortunately, vacant buildings sometimes are susceptible to people breaking in," Director of Economic Policy and Development Erik Hansen said. "And fires do occur."

A new road through the current shopping center will be built in 2025. In the meantime, the city is asking the community to share ideas on what businesses to build along the road. Residents have until Nov. 15 to share feedback on four road configurations and three public space options.

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