Mayor Jacob Frey and other city officials provided specifics Sunday morning to an expedited plan to tear down the former Kmart building on Lake Street in south Minneapolis months faster than originally planned.
This comes more than a week after the building caught fire on Oct. 20 and suffered damages on the back side of the Kmart. That was enough for the city to decide it was urgent enough to begin the process of demolition sooner than originally scheduled in March 2024.
“It became a little bit more urgent due to safety issues to get the thing taken down a lot sooner, and so we've had to expedite that process,” said Frey at a press conference held in front of the Lake Street Kmart building.
Among those at the press conference were former Mayor R.T. Rybak, former city council member Meg Tuthill and current city council members Aisha Chughtai, Andrea Jenkins and Lisa Goodman.
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Erik Hansen, head of the city’s Community Planning and Economic Development division, said vacant buildings are sometimes susceptible to break-ins and fires.
He called the former Kmart structure “an attractive nuisance in the community” and said it needed to get removed “as quickly as possible.”
City council is set to approve a contract for the site’s debris removal this week. Once that’s approved, hazardous materials will have to be cleared from the area before knocking down the building.
“We hope to mobilize the contractor the week of Nov. 6, and then you'll see a process,” said Hansen.
“First, some contaminants coming out of the building and then you'll see that the walls and the building itself come down. And then that'll be cleared. And then the foundation and a few other things will be removed next spring,” said Hansen.
Hansen estimates most of the old Kmart building will come down in the “next coming weeks.”
In the meantime, Hansen said road construction is planned for 2025 and encouraged the public to weigh in on plotting out the 10-acre property through a survey. The survey can be found on their website and will gather community input until Nov. 15.
The city fire department investigated, but said Tuesday they could not determine the cause of the fire.