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More retailers eye Cottage Grove after convention

The city of Cottage Grove is in talks with several well-known retailers following a recent two-day appearance at the annual International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas.

Mayor Myron Bailey and Economic Development Authority Director Danette Parr attended the conference last week. Bailey said this year they brought more concrete plans for development, specifically for the planned Shoppes at Cottage View, near the new Walmart store, and a recently completed lodging study.

“Those (plans) made a huge difference,” Bailey said. “When retailers met with us they had a lot of positive comments and were really impressed with how proactive we were in getting the information needed so businesses could relocate to Cottage Grove.”

This year, city officials met with more than 30 developers, big box retailers and restaurant representatives. The list included Fleet Farm, Dunkin’ Donuts, Wyndham Hotels, Aldi’s and Golden Corral.

With just over 80 acres available at the Shoppes of Cottage View, Bailey said several companies expressed interest in occupying a portion of the East Point Douglas Road retail center.

“We talked with representatives from Fleet Farm about this area but they usually build on 30-plus acres,” Bailey said. “I’m not sure if that’s a good spot for Fleet Farm, but I would definitely like one here.”

He said talks with the retailer continue and that there might be a possibility of building across the highway on vacant land on West Point Douglas Road.

Another retailer Bailey said was “very interested” in Cottage Grove is Massachusetts-based Dunkin’ Donuts. Earlier this year, the company announced plans to build more than 50 stores in Minnesota, many of which would be in the Twin Cities.

“We talked with them about different options here in the city and about sites that met their criteria,” Bailey said. “We talked about the former Yo-Joe’s location and the (site) directly next to (Norris Square Senior Living Center).”

A development tentatively dubbed Norris Marketplaces is beginning on the corner of 80th Street and Hadley Avenue. G-Will Liquors is constructing a new 13,000-square-foot building directly across from the existing location. The store will anchor the retail center, which is expected to include at least two more tenants.

“Technically there are two big lots left and Dunkin’ Donuts is interested in the land on the Hadley Avenue side,” Bailey said.

Another gas station could move into Cottage Grove as early as later this year.

During the ICSC conference, the city met with several representatives from the Kwik Trip convenience stores chain. Bailey said talks were productive, adding that if a deal moves forward competition could help drive fuel prices lower. Some local officials and residents have pointed to higher gas prices in south Washington County than surrounding cities.

“They liked Cottage Grove a lot and would like to put two or three here,” Bailey said of Kwik Trip.

The company is scouting the area but Bailey said an unspecified site near the Shoppes at Cottage View is high on the list.

“I can’t say that it’s a done deal but they are seriously looking at one site, up to three sites. And one could go up yet this year.”

Kwik Trips are scattered throughout the metro and the closest location to Cottage Grove is in Woodbury or Eagan.

Vacant land adjacent to Ruby Tuesdays on Hardwood Avenue could soon be home to a new mid-sized hotel. The city met with representatives from several hotel chains, including Wyndham Hotels, which own a variety of hotel brands, and Bailey said the lodging study was met with positive feedback.

“I think the one thing they saw is that there really is a need here in Cottage Grove for something like an 80-room hotel,” Bailey said.

Earlier this year, Hospitality Marketers International conducted a lodging demand study and found that while Cottage Grove isn’t a destination hotspot, there isn’t an adequate number of choices for travelers.

The 1.7-acre site next to Ruby Tuesdays was originally slated for development of an 87-room Holiday Inn Express in 2008. Plans fell through but Bailey said the same vision remains for the site.

“I do believe that there will be a hotel in our future,” he said. “There is definitely interest in building a hotel business in Cottage Grove.”

Bailey said the city spoke with four hotel developers in Las Vegas, two of which are expected to visit Cottage Grove yet this week.

“I think the things we heard in Las Vegas were, as a city, we are very forward thinking, helpful and informative when it comes to getting businesses the information they need,” Bailey said. “It was another productive year and I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”