See more of the story

A batch of new stores has opened at Shingle Creek Crossing as the shopping center rising on the former Brookdale Mall site marks continued progress.

Recent openings at the Brooklyn Center site include Michaels crafts and T.J. Maxx, both featuring new formats in a 110,000-square-foot building adjacent to an existing Sears. The building, whose other shops include Sally Beauty Supply, had been expected to open last fall before weather and other issues pushed completion back to this spring.

"Just from the number of calls I was getting from all the ladies of Brooklyn Center and elsewhere, I think they were excited to finally get that open," said Tim Benetti, the city's planning and zoning specialist. "The traffic and customers coming in and out of there have been nonstop."

Benetti estimated that Shingle Creek's developer, Gatlin Development Co., has completed more than 70 percent of the construction planned as part of the $100 million redevelopment project, which occupies 65 acres at Hwy. 100 and Bass Lake Road in the city's central commercial district. The first new building at Shingle Creek was a 186,000-square-foot Wal-Mart, which opened in September 2012.

"It seems to be going pretty well," Mayor Tim Willson said of how Shingle Creek Crossing is taking shape. "We've gotten over all those hurdles, the economy has improved and there's more interest in Brooklyn Center.

"We've got redevelopment going on all across the city now."

The city has been using $17 million in bond funds issued shortly after Willson took office nine years ago to buy and market properties for redevelopment.

Development elsewhere

Besides Shingle Creek Crossing, redevelopment efforts in various stages of planning or discussion include a 32-acre mixed-use project at the former Brookdale Square site that would include the first apartments built in the city since the early 1970s; a 60,000-square-foot office-warehouse building planned at the site of the former Howe Fertilizer plant (construction could begin this summer); and a 160-unit senior assisted-living complex at Brooklyn Boulevard and 63rd Avenue N.

Millennials likely would be the intended market of the market-rate apartments anticipated at the former Brookdale Square site, which is near Metro Transit's Brooklyn Center Transit Center, Benetti said.

"We want to make sure there are active elements within the area and opportunities for them to connect to outdoor active living elements and infrastructure as well," he said. "That begins with transit, with trails, park systems and play fields."

The city also is anticipating receipt of a federal grant to begin a long-planned makeover of Brooklyn Boulevard, city engineer Steven Lillehaug said. The project calls for making the thoroughfare safer and more attractive to drivers, mass transit riders, cyclists and pedestrians while also creating space for commercial and residential development. The $7 million grant would go toward the estimated $10 million cost of work on a 1.3-mile section of Brooklyn Boulevard from 49th Avenue N. to Bass Lake Road. Once that section is done, the city hopes to continue making improvements on Brooklyn Boulevard from Bass Lake Road N. to Interstate 94.

At Shingle Creek, other work underway includes construction of a Discount Tire store, which should open this summer, Benetti said. A local coffee shop may take over the site of a Schlotzsky's deli that has closed.

Retailer eyes Kohl's site

A major retailer, meanwhile, has expressed interest in the site of the former Kohl's department store, a Brookdale holdover that unexpectedly closed last year, Benetti said. Unable to find a new tenant or tenants for the two-story, 75,000-square-foot building at Shingle Creek, the developer may tear it down to make way for a new building for the retailer.

Deals have yet to emerge for any of several restaurant sites at Shingle Creek, though the developer is talking to several restaurant groups. "He's anticipating that after some of this other stuff starts to fill in, the last remaining [restaurant] sites will fill in," Benetti said. "The last remaining key to this area is getting some nice sit-down restaurants back into this community."

Said Mayor Willson: "The people coming in and doing this redevelopment know Brooklyn Center is serious about redeveloping. We'll do everything to help, to make sure business comes in."

Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Woodbury. His e-mail address is