End of the Rainbow: Shoreview finalizes Kowalski’s plans


Shoreview’s former Rainbow Foods location will become the area’s first Kowalski’s Market near the end of the year. The Shoreview City Council approved building plans and will pay for a turn lane off Highway 96 to make the grocery store more accessible. (Jesse Poole photos/Bulletin)

City will contribute $1.4 million in TIF to help move

The path is paved for Kowalki’s Market to settle in Shoreview after the city council finalized plans for the Woodbury-based grocery store chain to move into the former Rainbow Foods location at Highway 96 and Hodgson Road.

“We finalized the final plat, all of the development agreements and everything on Monday,” Mayor Sandy Martin said of the city’s moves at the March 7 city council meeting. 

Kowalki’s new location is the 1990s-era 68,000-square-foot building that was left empty when Rainbow’s parent company, Milwaukee-based Roundy’s Supermarkets, Inc., pulled out of the Twin Cities in July 2014. 

The building has been unused since then, but according to Martin, city officials and residents were anxious to find another grocery store to occupy it. 

“The community really misses having a grocery store at that location,” Martin said. “From everything I’ve been hearing, there’s a lot of excitement about this, particularly about it being Kowalski’s.”

Kowalski’s and city staff worked with developer Oppidan Investment Company to prepare a proposal for the site — it was unanimously approved by the city’s Planning Commission in January and the city council gave it its initial and enthusiastic blessings Feb. 1. 

And now, Martin said, it will be a reality, with a hopeful pre-Thanksgiving grand opening — the grocery store plans to wrap up final renovations and be open in time for the feast-centered holiday.

Some of those renovations entail interior work on the building. The company said it would like to use one-third of the space — approximately 25,000 of 68,000-square-feet — for its traditional grocery merchandize, and the rest for a coffee shop, a wine shop, a deli, bakery, catering service and general operations.

According to Martin, Kowalski’s desire for a traffic change — namely a left-turn lane from the eastbound lane of Highway 96 into the store parking lot — was supported by the council and will be paid for by the city. Creating the turn lane will mean opening up the median on 96.

“For this to be successful, they felt that that was essential,” Martin said, adding that the city has already secured permission from Ramsey County to add the turn lane. 

Martin said there are additional city funds going to the project “for the development costs and renovating the building.”

She said after it’s all said and done, the city is contributing about $1.4 million. But, she added, it’s being provided by the city as tax increment financing, which she said means the “money will eventually go back to the taxpayers.”

“The important thing is it can be done, and it will be done,” Martin said.

She also noted there is a plat open near Highway 96 for a possible restaurant. 

Shoreview is still working with Oppidan to develop plans for that spot, and city staff are encouraging a family or fine-dining eatery, in response to requests from the community, though Martin mentioned several banks have also expressed interest in the location.

 

Jesse Poole can be reached at jpoole@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7815. Follow him at twitter.com/JPooleNews.

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