The beleaguered Commerce Place shopping center at the heart of downtown Mound has been sold at auction to a private entity with local ties and the desire to fix it up.
Raimi Property Group (RPG) out of Burnsville bought up the property for $1.46 million plus auction costs and intends to pour an additional $1 million worth of renovations into it over the next two months, said RPG’s CEO, Shirzad Raimi.
“The numbers worked out for us and it’s a great place,” said Raimi, who previously lived in Mound before his move to Eden Prairie. Raimi said that the project at Commerce Place won’t be a raze-and-rebuild but that instead he plans for the building’s revitalization. “There’s a future in it. It’s coming back to life. It’s not being torn down anymore.”
RPG, which first established itself on a residential footing, has gradually been moving into the commercial sector over the past few years.
One of the commercial properties that RPG has already given some love is a building in Coon Rapids where Alloy Brewing Company moved in 2017. More recently, in December of last year, RPG purchased an empty warehouse in Minneapolis’ Saint Anthony East neighborhood, near the Vegas Lounge. Raimi said the full rehab there is still underway but is expected to wrap up early this fall.
“They’re not dreams, they’re real. He has a great vision,” said Mound Mayor Ray Salazar of RPG’s plans for Commerce Place.
Raimi said that Commerce Place in the next months will see a new HVAC system, new plumbing and new electrical—all of it energy efficient—plus a new roof, new parking lot and exterior finishes.
The shopping center currently has only two tenants Anytime Fitness and Jade Palace restaurant. An accompanying string of empty storefronts has for years defied occupancy.
Previous owner Schafer Richardson had cycled through more than a dozen iterations for its redevelopment since purchasing the property in 2008. The most recent of these, a proposal for a 102-unit apartment complex, fell through last summer after Mound residents lobbied against Schafer’s requests for rezoning and a conditional use permit.
The ownership change will affect the existing businesses at Commerce Place, “but in a good way,” said Raimi, who added that he doesn’t intend to raise the rents already being charged. He said, too, that he’s been working with the existing tenants to help them realize their business goals, including a potential expansion of the Anytime Fitness.
And he’s been working with his connections to find additional tenants for the space (even prior to opening it up for new leases) and said that bringing in a Trader Joe’s was one possibility.
“This was a vision I saw—we saw—as a city last year,” said Mayor Salazar. Salazar said that RPG’s restoration of the building was “a viable alternative” to what had seemed a constant churn of housing proposals under the previous ownership.
“This is commerce being brough back to our city. It’s what we need and what we deserve. It’s everything we were talking about last August,” he said. “This is the first step in that direction.”