Talks to reopen Nicollet Avenue at Lake Street appear to be progressing, as the city Friday commenced a process that will eventually give them authority to purchase the land.

Kmart's obstruction of Nicollet Avenue has long been considered one of the worst urban planning blunders in modern Minneapolis history. Opening the street has been a top priority for incoming City Council Member Lisa Bender.

On Friday, the city released a redevelopment plan for the area. Bender said that if this passes — a council vote is expected in April — it will give the city authority to purchase property in the area.

City officials have been in negotiations for years to convince a multitude of owners and lessees on the site to cooperate with the plan.

"This is an optimistic step," Bender said. "It means that we're still in active negotiations with the private property owners … It's evidence that those negotiations are moving forward."

Howard Riefs, director of communications for Sears Holdings, which owns Kmart, said in a statement: "We will review the proposal and provide further comment in due course."

Eric Roper