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Mississippi Market, a St. Paul institution that started in the city's Mac-Groveland neighborhood in 1979, is expanding.

The natural foods co-op may buy a vacant piece of land at 740 E. 7th St. on the city's East Side. Mississippi Market already has stores at 644 Selby Av. and 1500 W. 7th St. in St. Paul.

The market would be part of a broader development on the East Side site involving housing, as well.

Co-op General Manager Gail Graham said the city-owned site has been vacant for about a decade. City documents state that the free-standing store at 740 E. 7th St. would span about 15,600 square feet.

"We are seriously interested in it and we're pursuing it," Graham said. "It would be a good project for us in an exciting community."

If all goes accordingly, Graham said the new store could be open by early 2015.

-- Janet Moore covers commercial real estate for the Star Tribune.