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Editorial: Kmart demolition an important step

An additional chapter was added to the ongoing Northland Mall saga Monday night when the Worthington City Council recommended the demolition of the former Kmart building.

The recommendation, which was made to Nobles County District Court, seems like a no-brainer considering the sad state of affairs the building has become. The process of getting to this point hasn’t been as speedy as many as have liked, nor has action regarding the rest of the mall and its inattentive, back-taxes-owing, absentee owner. Yet, we are content in letting the legal process take its due course and confident the city of Worthington will rightfully prevail in these matters.

While what has happened with the Kmart building is undoubtedly sad — it has been empty for roughly a decade and half, and virtually ignored over the duration of that time — demolition seems clearly the best option. And that’s just not from the standpoint of getting rid of an eyesore. A report on the building from Wenzel Engineering to the city council stated that it would take the expenditure of $3.47 million to return the site to a functional retail space. The cost of demolition? A minuscule-by-comparison $253,000. You make the call.

The city has a court date regarding the mall’s demolition for June 26, it was announced during Monday’s council meeting. While it’s likely owner Mike Kohen will have some period of time to respond to a court-ordered demolition, can any action from him reasonably be expected, given his history? We’re hopeful the end result will be a wrecking ball, followed by plentiful reparations from Mr. Kohen.

Worthington’s old Campbell’s Soup site was also an eyesore following the closure of Awra Doro in 2011, but that location has been revitalized with the construction of a new fire station. We don’t know yet what an answer for the Kmart (and mall) site may be, but the first big step in working toward that solution is pretty apparent.