The long-awaited sight of the Golden Arches has slipped from view in Ramsey — at least for now.
After a protracted back-and-forth between the north metro suburb and the fast-food giant, a hot piece of real estate near the Armstrong Boulevard interchange will soon be back in the city’s hands, following years of waiting for a McDonald’s to materialize there.
“This has been a thoroughly disappointing and frustrating experience,” Mayor Sarah Strommen said at a recent City Council meeting. “I believe I speak for all of us when I say we will be happy to have this resolved and move on.”
Chatter about a McDonald’s coming to town first emerged a few years before the burger chain bought property in 2014 in “the COR,” Ramsey’s downtown development project. Documents show the city spent about $300,000 to prepare the property and the surrounding area for development, with McDonald’s pitching in nearly $41,000.
Construction deadlines came and went. Frustration simmered among city officials, who considered going to court to get the land back.
“We were expecting for McDonald’s to build soon, but they kept putting it off,” City Administrator Kurt Ulrich said. “That’s a prime intersection for us, and we didn’t just want to see it sit there.”
City officials dodged litigation costs by reaching a settlement agreement with the mega chain that returns the land to the city for $10,000, plus deed transfer expenses. McDonald’s had paid $470,000 for the 1.36-acre property.
“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the city of Ramsey,” Walt Maney, vice president and general manager of McDonald’s Midwest Region, said in a statement Friday.
“While McDonald’s initially had plans to begin development on the property, the marketplace did not develop as anticipated and the decision was made to deed the property back to the city,” he said.
Council members gave resounding approval to the agreement in a meeting last week. The deal also releases the city and McDonald’s from any liabilities.
“Everybody is happy to have this behind us,” Council Member Chris Riley said in an interview. “The settlement amount was substantially less than we were concerned that we may have to pay in court.”
The goal, city leaders said, is to get the property back on the market as soon as possible, with hopes to lure another restaurant or retailer to town.
Bringing in more dining options, Riley said, is a priority for council members as well as the suburb’s estimated 26,000 residents.
Not to say that Ramsey wouldn’t welcome another set of Golden Arches down the road.
“We’d love to have McDonald’s in town somewhere,” Ulrich said. “This just wasn’t the right time or the right site.”