The Bloomington Port Authority is moving to buy property near the Mall of America that includes a Marriott hotel.
During a special meeting Tuesday evening, the Port Authority Commission voted to pursue the purchase of three parcels: 1918, 2008 and 2020 American Blvd. E. The parcels, across American Boulevard from Ikea, contain one of six Marriott hotels near the mall.
Commissioners met behind closed doors for nearly an hour to discuss the terms of a possible purchase.
Holly Masek, Port Authority administrator, said the port has been eyeing the Marriott property since at least 2018. The fate of the property is not yet clear.
"We want to hold onto it until we have a really solid plan and a great development opportunity for it," Masek said.
The land is immediately adjacent to the site where Bloomington wants to see a massive pavilion built for the World Expo 2027.
Bloomington is competing against four other cities around the world to host the Expo, essentially a supersized trade show. The winning city will be announced on June 21.
If selected, Bloomington officials hope the Expo would draw up to 14 million visitors to Minnesota in the summer of 2027. The Legislature has approved spending $5 million for initial planning, should Bloomington's bid be selected.
The Marriott property had not been considered part of an Expo campus, Masek said, because the current owners had not been interested in selling.
"Now they are a little more open to conversation — hence, we are reopening the conversation," Masek said.
The three parcels on American Boulevard that the Port Authority is now pursuing are owned by a limited-liability corporation, CP Minneapolis, which is registered in Kentucky.
The parcels were last sold in December 1998, according to Hennepin County property records, for a total of $35 million.
The county office now estimates the value of the land and hotel building at a total of $21.6 million — about $10 million for 1918 American Blvd. E., $6.12 million for 2008 American Blvd. and $5.42 million for 2020 American Blvd.
Masek said it is still too early to say how much the city might pay for the property, but said the port often buys and holds land for later development.
The Port Authority holds one other piece of property in Bloomington's South Loop area that Masek said could be part of the Expo campus, and the city has the right of first refusal on another parcel nearby.
The site where the Thunderbird Motel, later rebranded as a Ramada Inn, once stood on 24th Avenue S. is owned by the Port Authority. The hotel — one of the first built in Bloomington and designed to cater to fans at the old Metropolitan Stadium — was demolished in late 2016. Bloomington tried to sell the vacant lot but never found a buyer.
The port also has the option to buy more property just east of the Mall of America if Bloomington is chosen to host the Expo. That property, across 24th Avenue from the mall's east parking ramp, has been a fenced-in parking lot for at least 15 years.