MANKATO — It wasn’t on the agenda, but Mankato city leaders got an update on the prospects for a new downtown Hy-Vee, the expected construction of a mini-Hy-Vee near the university, a pair of trucking-related businesses on the east side, and several other impending developments.
The Mankato Economic Development Authority, which is made up of the seven City Council members, wrapped up its work 30 minutes before the members were to convene for a council meeting Monday night.
With time to kill, they quizzed Community Development Director Paul Vogel about local development projects.
Plans by Des Moines-based Hy-Vee to build a Fast and Fresh store near the Minnesota State University campus were approved by the city in June of last year. Construction did not immediately ensue in 2018, and with winter approaching, Vogel said he doesn’t anticipate the store — a cross between a very large convenience store and a very small supermarket — to be built until the 2020 construction season.
“The Hy-Vee project will probably be postponed until next year,” he said.
A new downtown Hy-Vee — or at least a new look for the Riverfront Drive store — looks to be a real possibility.
The city’s new strategic plan envisions the 36-year-old downtown Hy-Vee being redeveloped as a modern store, with apartments above it and potentially a skyway connecting the development to the civic center complex. Only about 50% of the seven-acre parcel, which is owned by the city, is being used by the supermarket.
The store is owned by a development firm founded by Art Petrie. Hy-Vee, which just signed a five-year lease extension, is being pushed by the firm to invest in the site.
“I know the landlord, which is not Hy-Vee, has been pushing them to do something with the property,” Vogel said. “... We’ve been told to expect something to happen within that five years — either a remodel or an expansion.”
Vogel said the city has been told that Hy-Vee, which has a modern and much larger store on Mankato’s east side, wants to maintain a presence downtown.
Truck stop a go
Two trucking-related firms — one a large truck stop — appear ready to move forward with construction at the intersection of Adams Street and Blue Earth County Road 12 on the city’s far eastern edge.
The only remaining hurdle is a state economic development grant that would cover part of the costs of extending Adams Street and related utilities to the site, according to Vogel.
The city expects to hear in December the fate of a grant application seeking as much as $672,000 from the Transportation Economic Development Infrastructure program.
“It looks like if the grant comes forward, it’s a go,” Vogel said.
New day care facilities
Even as crews put the finishing touches on the seven-story, $22 million Eide Bailly building, which is several months behind schedule, the adjacent parking ramp is virtually finished and the building’s next door neighbor is open for business.
The Cultivate Mankato child care center, which like Eide Bailly originally hoped to open in the spring, began operations on Sept. 9. All of the facilities are on the same block along Main and Second Streets.
The council on Monday night also granted a conditional use permit for a new day care at 1961 Premier Drive in the Eastwood Industrial Center. Brittany Browning-Morton is planning to provide care for up to 57 children in 4,300 square feet of space within the Greater Mankato Growth Business Development Center.
All three of the Mankato-based affordable housing projects competing for coveted 9% federal tax credits made the initial cut in a statewide competition against similar projects across Minnesota.
Two new apartment buildings targeted at lower-middle-class workers are being proposed in Mankato — one adjacent to Rosa Place across from Rosa Parks Elementary School and another just north of Cub Foods West.
A third proposal would renovate the Colonial Square apartments on Ramsey Street, which primarily serve people with disabilities.
The final winners in the tax-credit competition will be announced in November, but some projects have already been weeded out by the Minnesota Housing Finance Authority. None of those were Mankato projects.
Meanwhile, more high-end buildings are being added to the Pondview Heights Apartments just north of Adams Street near the Madison East Center.
The first Pondview building, constructed in 2014, totaled 77 apartments and is valued at $7.4 million. Two more 50-unit buildings were added in 2016 and 2018.
“They’ll actually be constructing two more buildings back there,” Vogel told the EDA.
Editor's note: The initial version of this story did not list the updated value of the $22 million Eide Bailly building.