Housing Proposal at Former Signal Hills K-mart Site

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On Monday, West St. Paul’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) will consider a proposal for housing at the former K-mart site. Two apartment buildings are proposed—a five-story, independent senior living complex and a four-story, workforce housing complex. It’s estimated to be a $90- to $100- million project.

The developer is hoping to secure tax increment financing (TIF) from the city to cover site cleanup, including demolition of the existing K-mart and bank buildings.

History of the K-mart and Bank Sites

The K-mart closed at the end of 2016. It briefly housed a Halloween store, but has otherwise been vacant. In 2017 the city council rejected an idea to put a shooting range in the former K-mart. Apparently go-karts and mini-golf have also been proposed for the building.

The bank building has been vacant since at least 2006 and has seen multiple proposals, including a youth shelter, a banquet hall, and a combined restaurant/dog park.

Moving Forward

Most proposals have run into issues with zoning. The new proposed housing project would also require a zoning change, though it is consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan and the proposed housing plan.

Development of the K-mart parcel has been especially complicated since Sears bought the building but leased the land, and then went bankrupt.

While the proposal is still preliminary (it’s being considered at an EDA work session), it represents a big step forward.

Update (Aug. 24, 2019): It’s worth taking a look at the draft housing plan the city is currently working on, which notes the need for more housing, especially for seniors.

Update (July 1, 2020): The June 22 City Council meeting has a recap of the latest updates on this project, including the increased, size, cost, and subsidy as a result of incorporating the prevailing wage.

Update (July 13, 2020): Read our detailed write-up of the issues and concerns, as well as our take on the project.

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