The owners of the Eden Prairie Center shopping mall are exploring alternative uses for the space currently occupied by the soon-to-close Sears department store. An investment partnership affiliated with the owner recently purchased for $16 million the 204,566-square-foot building and 18-acre parcel. Long-beleaguered Sears Holdings Corp. has been a tenant since the mall opened in 1976.

“Recognizing the multimillion dollar remodel underway at Eden Prairie Center’s AMC Theatres 18 and the recently announced addition of Crave, the location of this parcel is well-positioned for future opportunities,” Todd Minnis, chief investment officer for CAPREF, the real estate investor, said in a statement. “We have finalized an agreement with Sears Holdings to reclaim the space so that we will have complete control of the future of this prime real estate.”

Parent company Sears Holdings said it would close the Eden Prairie store in November.

“Our leasing team is exploring other options that will not only complement the mall’s existing merchant mix, but provide our shoppers with unique offerings not available at other area shopping centers,” Minnis said.

The Sears departure follows other news at the mall that Crave restaurant will occupy the space that used to be home to Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano.

It’s unclear how many Sears employees will lose their jobs, the company said last month. They will be eligible for positions at other Sears and Kmart locations in the Twin Cities.

Eddie Lampert, the hedge fund manager who is CEO at Sears Holdings, which includes Kmart, is trying to refinance the aging retailer once again.

Lampert’s ESL Investments offered to lend Sears $300 million in August. Sears accepted. The lifeline loan is secured by a junior lien against Sears’ inventory, receivables and other working capital.

Lampert has been selling assets and closing stores to stem the company’s continued cash burn. Sears also said in May that it would explore a sale and options for its Kenmore appliance, Craftsman tools and DieHard batteries brands, the brand bulwarks. That would extend a string of transactions, including the spinoff of the Lands’ End clothing unit and the bulk of its stake in Sears Canada.

Nicole Norfleet, Neal St. Anthony

Minnesota Cup announces finalists

The Minnesota Cup, which bills itself as the country’s largest statewide new venture competition, has named the finalists who will be honored later this month in ceremonies at the University of Minnesota.

In addition to more than $400,000 in prize money, the monthslong Minnesota Cup competition provides many of these entrepreneurs, some fledgling and others veterans with new ideas, with the tools, resources and mentoring to launch or grow their small enterprises as they advance through the competition.

The eight division winners were culled from a record 1,500 entrants. They are: Activated Research Co. in the energy/clean tech/water category; SelfEco Garden in food/ag/beverage; Berd Spokes in general; Vugo in high tech; StemoniX in life science/health IT; Asiya in social entrepreneurship; Minnealloy Magnetics in the student category and ExpressionMed in the 18-and-under category.

Each division winner has been awarded up to $30,000 and is now in pursuit of the Minnesota Cup’s grand prize, which comes with an additional $50,000 in seed capital. Beyond the grand prize, the Carlson Family Foundation will award $25,000 to the top female-led business;. The Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation will award $25,000 in seed funding to the top entry from that region. Meda will award $10,000 to the minority entrepreneur with the most innovative business concept. There are additional prize categories. For more information:

Neal St. Anthony

3 generations make partner at Baker Tilly

Partners are announced regularly at professional services firms.

However, there is a rare third-generation partner just named at the Minneapolis office of accounting firm Baker Tilly.

Matt Tredinnick, 35, joined the firm in 2003 after passing the CPA exam with the highest score in Minnesota.

Tredinnick was preceded at the firm by his dad, Kim, who worked at the firm from 1972 until his retirement earlier this year from the Madison, Wis., office of Baker Tilly. The late Donald Tredinnick, Matt’s grandfather, joined the firm in 1958 from Dodgeville, Wis., when it was known as Virchow Krause. Virchow was later acquired by Baker Tilly. Donald retired in 1981.

Matt Tredinnick, broke the Wisconsin residency habit when he attended the University of Minnesota and hired on at the Minneapolis office. The local Baker Tilly office has 240 employees and 28 partners.

Matt Tredinnick, who lives with his family in Savage, is an audit partner who works with real estate developers and construction firms.

Neal St. Anthony