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National site selectors tour industrial UMore land

The empty commercial building that was home to the former Applebee’s restaurant in Rosemount will open and a contract is in place, but it may not reopen as a restaurant. Kara Hildreth / Contributor

ROSEMOUNT — National site selectors recently flew in to Minnesota to tour open and available business and industrial land in Rosemount with plans to find a spot to potentially develop. The site selector company toured the UMore land area two weeks ago.

"It went really well and they asked all the right questions," Rosemount City Administrator Logan Martin said. "They flew in and out, and they did not go to any other Minnesota sites ... so that is great news."

Rosemount Mayor Bill Droste explained how national site selector companies usually tour optimal cities in which they are deciding where to locate large warehouses like manufacturing or distribution centers or even data centers.

"When they only come to Rosemount, it makes us feel like we are the only ones on the list for Minnesota. They might be seeing other states; we do not know," Martin said.

Rosemount city staff reported a positive meeting with the site selectors.

Also on site during the tour were representatives from Xcel Energy, the Department of Employment and Economic Development, Greater MSP, the University of Minnesota, and the Opus Group.

"We know the goals of the Port and the Council is that we are going to land a deal," Martin said. "We are promising them the world because we want the deal."

Applebee's building under contract

The former Applebee's commercial building in Rosemount was discussed during the Rosemount Port Authority business update.

The building has remained empty since April 2017, stating the building lease was too high in price to keep the restaurant open.

Rosemount City Council member Paul Essler asked if the real estate broker was close on any deals or less than reasonable on rates at the Rosemount Port Authority meeting.

"It is difficult for some of our residents to understand why a restaurant or a brewery or something has not moved into that location," Essler said.

Martin said he understands Rosemount residents are anxious to see the building occupied and he said the city was aware of a couple active offers.

"We know about the deal that fell apart and we know about the more recent deal that fell apart. So there were a number of months lost because there were two deals that fell apart on that property," Martin said. "The business owner is going to select whomever he or she wants to as a consistent tenant that will stay there a long time."

The commercial building is now under contract and most likely the building will open but not as a food destination.

Mark Robinson, principal with Mid America Real Estate of Minneapolis, said the building is under contract now although he cannot reveal what kind of business is slated to come.

"It is not a restaurant and it is not planning on being a restaurant at this point," Robinson said. Robinson said he will have more information to share by the end of May when the deal is slated to close.

"The land owner is being given the choice of business X or business Y and he has to select the more stable tenant ... but he is a free market business person, too, so he may take business Y even though we love business X," Martin said.

"The reality is that we thought it would be a full-service restaurant again and someday it could be, but it is a very difficult industry to be a full-service restaurant business and there are just fewer users today then there were previously," Robinson said.