City clears way for improvements; three unidentified renters lined up
The south end of the Westlake Plaza, vacated by Rainbow Foods in January, will not sit empty for much longer.
The retail center’s owner, IRET Properties of Minot, N.D., is in discussion with three potential tenants. Those talks are far enough along that IRET representatives appeared before the Forest Lake City Council Monday seeking approval of a variance and site plan for a renovation that promises to bring about occupancy at the SW 12th Street property.
“We’re excited to see this new development here,” IRET asset manager Dick Kvanbeck said. “Obviously, we lost a valued tenant there with Rainbow; 47,000 square feet is a pretty big hole at the south end of our property. In the process of trying to backfill that space and bring in some new businesses here, we determined that the only way we could do that was to proceed with a plan to essentially subdivide this particular space to make it usable to a wide variety of retailers.”
In an interview last week with the Times, Kvanbeck said he could not yet publicly name the potential tenants. He said negotiations were “well on their way.”
The tenants could move into Westlake Plaza yet this summer and possibly open early in 2014, Kvanbeck said.
“We’re excited for the prospects we have coming in,” he said.
First, though, IRET will make improvements to the building that cater to the potential tenants. Forest Lake Community Development Director Doug Borglund detailed the work Monday. A combined 3,000 square feet will be added to square off the building’s southern corners. Separate front entrances will be created to the city’s design standards.
IRET will mill and overlay the parking lot’s south end, next to the part of the plaza in discussion. The northern half will be seal coated and the entire lot will be restriped and reconfigured to improve traffic flow.
Landscaping improvements will be made on the property’s southern and western perimeter as well as in several parking lot islands.
With several conditions in place, the council unanimously approved the site plan and variance.
“Are you willing to provide seminars to owners of other vacant buildings in this community on how to turn around those things?” Councilwoman Susan Young asked Kvanbeck, to chuckles from the audience. “I’m very impressed with how quickly you’ve been able to get this done. It is a huge thing, so I’m very much in support of what you’re trying to do here.”
The 100,500-square-foot center currently consists of eight tenant spaces. It opened in 1988.