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Minneapolis planners have a broad-strokes vision for what should become of the former Kmart site in south Minneapolis, and Thursday it got the blessing of City Council members.

Here are some highlights:

  • Nicollet Avenue will be reconnected as a continuous, two-lane road open to all traffic. The street was cut off for a block between Lake Street and Cecil Newman Lane when the big-box retail store was built in the 1970s — a decision many city planners came to regret.
  • A bicycle and pedestrian promenade will run roughly diagonally through the site, providing connections to adjacent bike routes.
  • A new city park, perhaps as large as 2 acres, will be established in the site's northeast quadrant.
  • Nearby, a new ADA-accessible access ramp to the Midtown Greenway will be built at 1st Avenue.

The vision follows public open houses and comment periods, culminating in a presentation that featured the recommendations of city staff.

The council voted overwhelmingly to move ahead with the plan.

Many details of the area's redevelopment have yet to be worked out, and construction won't begin until 2025. A combination of private developer desires and public feedback will determine what is actually built on the site, which is envisioned as a mix of commercial and residential.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will ultimately determine the nature of the park; ideas range from an indoor rec center to a flexible outdoor "gathering space" that could host sports and performances.

Driving, biking and walking

Nearby bike routes include the below-grade Midtown Greenway just north of the site, a two-lane bikeway along Blaisdell Avenue to the west, and a planned two-lane bikeway on the eastern edge of the site along 1st Avenue. For that reason, there was little consideration of creating a bikeway along the new portion of Nicollet.

That new portion of road is now envisioned as having a pair of 10½-foot-wide traffic lanes — wide enough to accommodate any vehicle. Planners considered allowing the street to be open to only emergency and transit vehicles, an idea supported by some pedestrian advocates. But city officials decided against it after a traffic study suggested that diverting regular vehicle traffic around the one-block stretch would actually clog the area up so much that it would delay bus routes.

The envisioned Nicollet street layout will also include wheelchair-accessible parking spots and areas for loading and unloading between bus stops. The street will be lined with trees and sidewalks, and a raised crosswalk will connect the pedestrian and cycling promenade with both sides of Nicollet.