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Empire Foods is open for business in the store that Walmart abandoned in Brooklyn Center.

The warehouse-style Asian grocery is fully stocked with food, kitchen supplies and housewares.

Records with the Minnesota Department of Revenue indicate that St. Paul-based Sun Empire LLC acquired the property from Walmart for $8.2 million in late December. Representatives of Empire Foods or Sun Empire LLC could not be reached for comment.

Marshall Nguyen, CEO of the Burnsville-based Wyn Group, a real estate investment and brokerage firm, said that the store is owned by the Ku family, which owns Sun Foods and other grocery stores.

"They are the largest Asian grocery store owners in Minnesota. I thought they were the perfect buyers for that," Nguyen said.

Nguyen was the lead broker and a key player in the development of Asia Mall, which opened in a former Gander Mountain store in Eden Prairie. Nguyen said that there's a "retail shift" going on where large retailers leave spaces which then opens them up for local businesses.

The Brooklyn Center Walmart, which opened in 2012, closed last April. The store has more than 180,000 square feet of space.

Walmart was part of the Shingle Creek Crossing redevelopment on the site that once housed the Brookdale Center shopping mall, which was largely demolished in 2011. In the mid-1960s, Brookdale was nearly as large as Southdale in Edina.

In addition to the former Walmart building, the Shingle Creek Crossing retail center includes 10 buildings with a total of 200,000 square feet. That space is about 85% occupied said Sam Gerlach, brokerage associate with Minneapolis-based Upland Real Estate Group which leases space there.

Gerlach said that the arrival of Empire Foods has boosted interest in surrounding real estate.

"When the news broke, we received a number of inquiries. It definitely raised optimism," Gerlach said.

Other potential buyers were interested in the Walmart store, too.

"We were told at one point that there were three offers on the property," said Jesse Anderson, Brooklyn Center's community development director. Anderson said that the city does not know the identities of the prospective buyers.

Last year the city installed a pole-mounted camera in the Shingle Creek Crossing parking lot. Police Chief Kellace McDaniel, who has since retired, called it a "high-crime area." The city grappled with the ongoing issue of crime in the Walmart parking lot.

Brooklyn Center statistics showed that from 2018 until March 2023 there were a total of 6,177 police calls to the Walmart. For the five-year stretch from 2018 through 2022, there were more than 1,000 police calls every year to the store.

Shingle Creek Crossing tenants across the parking lot from Empire Foods include LA Fitness, Burlington and T.J. Maxx.