Don’t expect to see development at Target’s large surface parking lot on Lake Street anytime soon.

Besides a site owned by the Minneapolis School District, the lot is one of the most significant opportunities for transit-oriented development along the Hiawatha light rail line. That’s important since development at the intersection of Lake Street has fallen far short of high expectations from when the line opened.

In fact, what is now the third-busiest transit hub in the metro is surrounded by 2,700 stalls of surface parking on the equivalent of 18 football fields of land. Steve Wellington, who owns the nearby Hi-Lake shopping center, said even a sliver of the lot near Lake Street would be quickly snapped up for redevelopment if it were put up for sale.

County records show that the land underneath Target is owned by a blind trust called “Thomas Burton et al, trustees.” The northern portions of the parking lot are owned by Rainbow and the Minnehaha Mall.

MPLS called Thomas Burton, who represents a group of what he calls “passive investors.” Burton said any changes to the property would be up to Target, subject to the approval of his clients.

“As long as there’s a lease in place with Target, they are very much a passive investor and Target drives the bus,” Burton said. He would not say when the lease with Target expires.

Anne Christensen, a spokeswoman for Target, offered the following statement regarding their plans for the site: “Target is focused on providing convenient parking options for guests at our Lake Street store. We have no plans for changes to the parking lot at this time.”

So just who are the investors? Burton said the trust was created in 1932 and the beneficiaries are descendants that live both locally and around the country. The Target property, which they purchased in 2000, is the last holding they have.

He would not say who the trustees are, except that “most of the beneficiaries are older and not that clear.”

Burton noted that there are additional complications to developing the site, since it has shared parking (cross-easements) with Minnehaha Mall, which sits just north of Target.

Burton said there were discussions of redoing the Target storefront at one point, but Target wasn’t very interested and “the owners of the Minnehaha Mall objected because they were concerned about losing sight lines to Lake Street.”

Caren Dewar with the Urban Land Institute worked to redevelop the parcel many years ago. At the time, she said, Target was a willing partner but they were unable to engage the owners.

She’s had many similar experiences with land owners who are not interested in selling for redevelopment.

“Those places where you just wonder ‘Why doesn’t that get developed? Why doesn’t somebody come along here and do something spectacular with it?’ It’s because the owner, usually older… it’s a nice steady income stream [for them],” Dewar said. “They don’t want to sell it.”