This summer's opening of a long-awaited Target store in Inver Grove Heights appears to be breathing life into Argenta Hills, a retail development that languished during the economic recession.
Completion of the Target -- one of two anchor stores planned for the project -- has eased the way for the start of other smaller stores on the site at Hwy. 55 and South Robert Trail.
Construction on three of six shops planned for a "main street" area is expected to be finished in early December, said Greg Munson, whose Roseville-based McGough Companies is one of the partners in the development. "We're actively leasing it," said Munson, who declined to disclose specifics on potential merchants for the 21,000 square feet of space.
When completed, Argenta Hills will have more than 400,000 square feet of retail space. The project is part of a larger development that also will include single-family and multi-unit housing.
Andrea Christenson, a vice president of Cassidy Turley, a commercial real estate firm in Minneapolis, said likely tenants for the small-store space would include coffee and sandwich shops and service retailers like hair salons. Home improvement stores such as Home Depot or Lowe's could be logical choices for the other anchor, she said.
Munson said McGough and its development partner, Edina-based Tradition Companies, were interested in the site because of the high traffic counts along 55 and Robert. "It's also a highly under-served market," he said.
The Target store, the first in Inver Grove Heights, opened about three years later than initially planned. Minneapolis-based Target Corp. began work on it in 2008 but stopped early in 2009 as part of larger efforts to scale back expansion due to the recession.
Target restarted work on the store last year after the City Council narrowly approved $1.25 million in tax-increment financing for the entire Argenta Hills development.
"We were looking to start developing the city's northwestern quadrant -- a large area of about five square miles -- with Target as the first significant project," said Tom Link, community development director. One reason for providing the public financing was to jumpstart the dormant project to encourage other subsequent development in the area, he said.
Job creation was another reason for approving the financing to move the project along. A Target spokeswoman said the store, which opened in July, has about 200 employees.
Link said reaction from the community has generally been favorable. "I think that indicates a desire to see more retail." He said the new Target, as well as other future stores in the development, should draw shoppers from eastern Eagan in addition to Inver Grove Heights' northwest area.
Susan Feyder • 952-746-3282