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Year in Review: Lots of activity taking place — and in the works — around former mall site

WORTHINGTON -- From an economic development standpoint, the former Northland Mall property and Grand Avenue extension are two potential new cogs in the wheel that drives the city's growth.

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Construction of the new Marthaler Chevrolet dealership on the former Northland Mall property in Worthington is shown in this June photo. The dealership is now open for business. (Tim Middagh/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON - From an economic development standpoint, the former Northland Mall property and Grand Avenue extension are two potential new cogs in the wheel that drives the city’s growth.

Progress was made this past year in both the former mall site’s redevelopment and extending Grand Avenue in anticipation that the combination will eventually create a boom in commercial and residential growth.

Former Northland Mall Property On Feb. 2, Yellow Company LLC, a company owned by Aaron Marthaler, purchased the former Northland Mall property from Brian Pellowski for $1.6 million. The city loaned $400,000 to assist with the purchase. The plan was to build a Marthaler dealership on approximately five acres of the 36-acre site, with the use of the remaining property yet to be determined.

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During the time of the purchase, Worthington Mayor Mike Kuhle and other city leaders were confident the property would eventually be redeveloped into an additional area for businesses on Oxford Street.

“That’s just a start,” he said. “We’re going to get additional development coming down the road. I believe it’s the right partner.”

Demolition of the property began in April. The new dealership opened its doors in December, selling Chevrolet cars and moving its Chrysler dealership into the previous Chevrolet location..

With the dealership done, the goal now is to work on getting the lots ready for development. Development of the rest of the site is still in early stages, according to Kuhle.

“On a project of that scale, you have to go through many trials and tribulations before the right combination comes together,” Algadi said.

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“We have a new developer in there now,” Kuhle added. “He’s built a new dealership. It’s a beautiful building; a great start. Now he’s engaging civil engineers to come up with a site plan for the rest of the property and locate retail businesses to move in there.”

Before development can occur, plans have to be approved by the city, the county and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT). The city is currently in development review process on the plans for the empty lots, but Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Abraham Algadi said that shouldn’t slow the recruiting of businesses to the Oxford Street location.

“That doesn't prevent us, as a community, to go out and find leads, talk to businesses about how being at that location is really being at the front row seat of commercial activity because of its location on Oxford,” he said.

Grand Avenue Extension Construction began in July to extend Grand Avenue from Oxford Street to Darling Drive. The $1.25 million project included a brand-new concrete street with a multi-use trail on the east side that’s meant to accommodate bicycles, as well as a four-foot walkway. Construction was finished in October.

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City Engineer Dwayne Haffield said the idea to connect Oxford Street with Darling Drive came to fruition because of the Grand Terrace Apartments project, a 48-unit apartment complex being built just north of Viking Terrace Apartments on the brand new street. It was also created with the expectation that the former Northland Mall property would be redeveloped, according to Haffield.

Haffield said Cecilee Street would “eventually work its way west” to connect with Grand Avenue, as long as development warranted it.

Oxford Street Redevelopment Next year, assuming the legislature approves funding, Oxford Street will be resurfaced.

Earlier this year, the city of Worthington, Nobles County, MnDOT and SRF Consulting partnered up to create the U.S. 59 Corridor study.

The U.S. 59 Corridor consists of Oxford Street from McMillan Street to the Minnesota 60 roundabout and Humiston Avenue from I-90 to Oxford. An October open house was hosted, during which residents could give ideas for how the street should look when MnDOT helps reconstruct the street in 2025.

The goal is to make the corridor of Oxford and Humiston much more attractive, as it’s the often the only part of the city people see when they drive through it.

The combination of commercial development at empty lots at the former Northland Mall property, additional housing on the Grand extension and reconstruction of Oxford have economic development leaders excited for the future of the city.


“Once all these things begin to happen, with the (Grand Avenue extension), the new dealership and some of the other stuff that would be coming over there, there will be a lot of pressure on other parts of the oxford development to meet the new visual standard,” Algadi said. “It’s very exciting.”

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