Most of the storefronts are already vacant at Valley Ridge shopping center.

The parking lot at the strip mall, built in 1977 along Burnsville Parkway, is pocked with potholes and covered in cracks. Just a handful of cars park there each day, most of them drawn by Supermercado Olmeca on the end.

The strip mall is to be torn down later this year, replaced by an apartment building for senior citizens and an assisted-living facility. But first, the remaining businesses need to move out.

The Dakota County Community Development Agency (CDA) put $250,000 toward that goal this month with a grant to the city of Burnsville to help relocate them.

It was one of six redevelopment grants, totaling about $1 million, doled out by the CDA for projects around the county.

"We're the only agency in the state of Minnesota that has this program," said Mark Ulfers, executive director of the CDA.

The money for the grants comes from fees and other entrepreneurial funds collected by the CDA throughout the year.

"It's a big help," said Kim Lindquist, community development director in Rosemount. That city received a $250,000 grant to demolish the old St. Joseph's school in hopes of adding senior housing and a senior center on the site.

"There aren't quite as many strings [attached] as some of the grants out there," she said.

In Burnsville, salon owner Uy Vu, who has had a shop at Valley Ridge for about six years, said he appreciates help with relocating.

He works by himself, serving a walk-in client base he has built, partly from shoppers going to the supermarket at the end of the strip mall.

"It makes me worry a little bit," he said.

He lives in Burnsville and would like to keep his shop in town so he doesn't have to start all over again building a customer base.

"I hope they will find something for me," he said.

The Valley Ridge project, which is expected to cost about $21 million, should begin later this year. The senior housing and assisted-living facility is a partnership between the Dakota County CDA and Presbyterian Homes.

Other projects that received grants are scattered across the county:

•Lilydale will use $135,000 for demolition at the former Lilydale Tennis Club. After other steps, including bluff restoration, the city envisions a mix of condos and senior housing there.

•Eagan received $175,000 to pay for construction of a public parking lot and demolition of three buildings at the Cedar Grove site near Cedar Avenue and Hwy. 13.

•Hastings will use its $145,000 grant to demolish some of the newer buildings at the H.D. Hudson site, retaining the 1927 building for reuse.

•The South St. Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority was awarded a $175,000 grant to demolish three commercial buildings and clean up the former Stock Lumber site.

Katie Humphrey • 952-882-9056