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Public input begins for the future of old Kmart site in Minneapolis

The city is moving forward with plans to demolish the building, reconnecting West Lake Street to Nicollet Avenue which was cut off when Kmart first opened in 1978.

MINNEAPOLIS — In a once vibrant parking lot, redevelopment plans are in the works at the site of the old Kmart building off West Lake Street in Minneapolis, and a major part of what's next for the property involves members of the community. 

"The door is open for feedback, now we need people to show up and say what they want," said Ember Rasmussen, with Our Streets MPLS

Rasmussen is the community development manager with Our Streets Minneapolis, a transportation advocacy group partnering with the city to ensure safe access to transit, during major redevelopment projects. 

"Things that you would encounter as a pedestrian, as a biker when you're interacting in this area and just making sure that it feels safe, accessible and comfortable to be a pedestrian in the area," explained Rasmussen. 

The city is moving forward with plans to demolish the old Kmart building, reconnecting West Lake Street to Nicollet Avenue, which was cut off when Kmart first opened its doors in 1978. 

Demolition of the plaza is set to begin this month, starting with the old blue grocery store attached to the building. The rest is being torn down in 2024 when the post office's lease is up. 

Those who live nearby say they are ready. 

"I just hope that they open it up and make it a comfortable space for everybody to enjoy," Luz Gonzalez, who lives in the area.

Shared sentiments in one of the most culturally diverse neighborhoods in the city.

"Its a good spot, so people know where to find us everyday," said Jose Aguilar, owner of Taqueria El Primo. 

The food truck has been a staple in the corner of the Kmart parking lot for the last 10 years. 

"We just want our business to grow in a safe community in there, obviously they're going to open it to traffic, so its going to be like a more safe community, so basically that's what we want to see," said Aguilar. 

A decision which the city and Rasmussen are aiming to make inclusive. 

"In our work, we're always trying to make sure that you know folks who have normally been left out of these conversations have the opportunity to say what they want in their city streets," said Rasmussen. "So that we can build something that is sustainable, is livable, that can grow with us, that can count for you know changes in the transportation system in the coming years."

On Thursday, Oct. 6, the city and leaders with Our Streets Minneapolis will host a walk, bike and roll audit at 6 p.m. in the Kmart plaza parking lot and they're asking anyone who wants a say in the future of the property to attend.

If you can't make it out on Thursday, there's also an online survey for input.

The public is also invited to attend an open house Tuesday, Oct. 25, at Abyssinia Cultural Center at 322 W. Lake St. The event will run from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

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