Bloomington is expected to negotiate a new deal for the farmland it initially agreed to purchase for $32.3 million as the main site for the 2023 World Expo, according to city officials.
The City Council and Port Authority, which handles much of the economic development in the South Loop district, decided to cancel the previous purchase agreement in a meeting closed to the public on Monday, according to Port Authority Administrator Schane Rudlang.
That purchase agreement was contingent upon Minnesota being selected to host Expo 2023.
Delegates in Paris instead voted last week for Buenos Aires to host the monthslong exposition.
Bloomington had until Thursday to terminate the deal, according to city documents. The city will lose the $75,000 it put down as a hold on the property by canceling the purchase agreement.
“With [the] Expo not being a reality, then the use or the need for the land, all or in part, is not necessarily the same,” City Manager Jamie Verbrugge said.
The O’Neill family, which owns the 59-acre Spruce Shadows Farm south of Mall of America, was informed of the decision, Rudlang said.
City officials now are negotiating a revised purchase agreement with the family, he said.
“We hope to execute a document in December with the family, or as soon as possible,” he said.
Talks between the council and Port Authority were closed to the public owing to the need for sensitive negotiations, Rudlang said.
City meetings may be closed if officials are developing or considering the purchase or sale of real estate, according to state law.
Neither Rudlang nor Verbrugge would share the expected cost of the property or any details of the proposed agreement.
“We’re trying to get the best deal for the public money that’s used to fund the project,” Rudlang said.
Bloomington Mayor Gene Winstead last week said the city likely would cancel the original purchase agreement, as it had no other immediate development opportunities outside the World Expo bid.
On Tuesday, Verbrugge said the city didn’t have a specific use for the land. But Rudlang had said there were “potential legacy uses” related to the World Expo that could be built on the property.
He also mentioned the possibility of using the site as part of Amazon’s second headquarters, should the city’s South Loop bid be selected. Amazon has received 238 proposals from across North America, including several site options in the Twin Cities metro area.
Verbrugge said Bloomington has “taken a very long-term view of what South Loop is and will be in the future” and has “strategically and thoughtfully acquired property” in the district over the last few decades.
City officials have long had their eye on the farmland, which is mostly used for grazing. The family has owned it since 1932.