Developers Unveil Plan for Retail Center On Kasson Park Land

Created: 01/08/2014 10:54 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- Kasson City Hall was packed once again Wednesday night with residents eager to learn more about the fate of a retail development proposal for the city's Lions Park.

And for the first time they heard from the developers themselves about their plans.

Representatives with Oppidan Incorporated said they are looking to build a 36,000 square foot building on the 5.5 acre site, and have been working with Shopko to develop the plans.

The plans also call for upwards of 140 parking spaces as well as a green space to help with flooding concerns, and developers said the site appeals to Shopko specifically because of the high traffic volume that passes by.

But with two Shopkos already in Rochester, and one in both Austin and Albert Lea, some questioned whether it's really necessary.

"We're going to bring in one business, but for sure we've already lost one business,” said resident Judy Ruport, referencing a local coffee shop that would be destroyed if the current plan goes through. “I have a business in my home, my neighbor has a business in her home, we're going to lose our business too if they don't take care of the flooding issue."

"I'm not against developing the city, I think that's great,” said fellow resident Jamie Finne. “But there's a time and a place, or actually just a place for it, and the park is not the place for it."

Apart from bringing new competition into the area, some say the city would be losing part of its character.

"The Lions Club has put a lot of money into that play equipment and they've put a lot of time and effort into making that park pretty,” Finne said. “And I don't think a retail development store needs to come in and destroy that."

Although the city council voted unanimously in favor of the plan Wednesday night, the proposal still has a long way to go.

The developers would still need to reach agreements with several homeowners, and following any purchase agreement for the park land, city officials would have to hold three public hearings.

But no matter how far it goes, many residents at Wednesday’s meeting said they are willing to fight it to the very end.