by Dan Rafter
The site first popped onto United Properties’ radar in 2005. And why not? As Keith Ulstad, senior vice president with United Properties, says, the plot of land is located in a strategic location in the Minneapolis suburb of Woodbury, Minn.
It sits in the southern half of Woodbury, a desirable market for retailers. An attractive demographic lives here. And the site has long been one of the few parcels of land zoned for retail use in this part of Woodbury.
But 2005, of course, was a very different world than the one in which commercial real estate developers are operating today. Before United Properties could finalize plans for a retail development here, the economy fell into recession.
That scuttled any major retail project. Until now.
In late June, United Properties broke ground on the Bielenberg Gardens retail project on this key site at Radio Drive and Bailey Road. The project will include a 65,000-square-foot Jerry’s Foods grocery store as an anchor and 6,200-square-foot high-end liquor store operated by Jerry’s Enterprises.
Bielenberg Gardens will also feature a 12,300-square-foot multi-tenant retail building and 10 retail outlots.
The project is an important one for Woodbury. It serves as the retail component of a city-led master-planned development that will one day include apartments, townhouses and other amenities. The site will connect to the Bielenberg Sports Complex by a tunnel leading under Radio Drive.
Ulstad says the time is now right for the project. It’s true, he says, that Woodbury already boasts plenty of retail. But most of that retail is not located in the southern portion of the community.
“If you peel back the layers of the onion a bit, you’ll see that most of the retail is located along Woodbury’s I-94 corridor,” Ulstad said. “And in high measure, that retail is lifestyle goods, shoppers goods, as opposed to necessary goods. What people didn’t like was driving from the southern part of Woodbury to the northern part to buy gas and groceries or to do their banking or get their prescriptions.”
Bielenberg Gardens solves this problem, providing those residents who live in the southern portion of the community easier access to these necessary consumer goods.
“We made it clear early on that we are not competing with the lifestyle retail in the area,” Ulstad said. “We are not selling ball gowns or flat-screen TVs. This is a shopping center geared to the everyday needs of the citizens of south Woodbury.”
The grocery store and strip center are now under construction. Ulstad said that the goal is to get the grocery store environment-proofed by early to mid-December. United Properties is planning an opening of the store in March or April of next year.
“The stars have aligned for us after nine years,” Ulstad said. “To get going is a great feeling. If you go up there now, you see the walls actually going up. It’s sometimes hard to believe, but we are now underway.”