Sam's Club moratorium to end with new zoning.

 
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Byline: Matt M. Johnson

A moratorium that has prevented the owner of a former Sam's Club in St. Louis Park from redeveloping the site since mid-2018 will be lifted around Thanksgiving when the property gets a new designation.

The 13.5-acre property at 3745 Louisiana Ave. S. is owned by Sam's Club parent company Walmart and has been closed since January 2018. The 150,600-square-foot building has been up for sale for an asking price of $12.5 million since then, according to a sales brochure from the Minneapolis office of CBRE.

But because the former Sam's Club is near the future Wooddale and Louisiana Avenue stations on the Southwest Light Rail line, city officials decided to put a freeze on any change of use until the city could designate the property for transit-oriented development use. Last month, the city signed off on zoning the southern half of the property for future multifamily housing and the northern half for business park use, said Sean Walther, the city's planning and zoning supervisor.

The Metropolitan Council must put its stamp of approval on the change of use before the TOD designation would go in to effect, he said in a recent interview.

The moratorium was unusual in that it applies to a single property, Walther said.

"When a 13-acre parcel next to transit becomes available and is likely to change use, it deserves special attention," he said.

Transit-oriented development has been spurred by light rail and express bus route construction in the Twin Cities. Nearly $12 billion in development has been permitted near high-frequency transit in the last 15 years, according to a recent report from the Metropolitan Council's transportation arm, Metro Transit.

Walmart could have continued operating the property for retail uses during the moratorium and can still do so after the TOD designation goes into effect. But a...

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