The Cottage Grove City Council has unanimously approved a site plan for a new Goodwill Store and Donation Center to be built across the street from the old City Hall building, part of the city's efforts to breathe life into an ailing retail district east of Hwy. 61.

"This isn't your father's Goodwill store," City Administrator Ryan Schroeder said last week. "The Goodwill that many of us remember was run differently. They run their store as professionally and aggressively as any other retailer you can think of."

The 19,400-square-foot building will be built on a 2-acre parcel at the northeast corner of 80th Street and Hardwood Avenue, he said. A vacant two-story building that once housed a real estate company will be demolished to make way for the new store.

Other improvements, Schroeder said, will include a new sidewalk along Hardwood Court on the north side of the property and enhanced landscaping. The site plan includes 75 parking spaces.

Goodwill has not yet signed a lease for the site, company spokeswoman Lisa Ritter said, but she confirmed that it was "strongly pursuing a store location in Cottage Grove," and had been looking at the city for about four years.

Council members voted to rezone the property from limited business district to retail and to approve a conditional- use permit so the secondhand store can accept donations there.

Officials are hoping the new Goodwill can help revitalize the Gateway North district, which includes the Business Enterprise Center and several large retailers.

"This has been a 12-year effort to refresh and refurbish that area. And we've made significant gains," Schroeder said. "We took a hit when Home Depot decided to close their doors, but now we're on the upswing."

In 2008, the home improvement retailer closed its Cottage Grove location, along with 14 other underperforming stores nationwide, as part of what the company called its "store rationalization actions."

A Goodwill official told the council at its Aug. 14 meeting that the Cottage Grove store would employ between 35 and 45 people.

Goodwill has 24 stores in the metro area, including one in Woodbury. The Cottage Grove location is expected to open sometime next spring.

Twitter: @StribJany