Company plans to close Rainbow in West St. Paul


It was business as usual at the Rainbow Foods in West St. Paul Wednesday afternoon. The company that bought the site this spring plans to close the grocery store and start "employment separations" in November. (Kaitlyn Roby/Review)

Possibility of redevelopment a 'unique opportunity' for city

The company that bought Rainbow Foods in West St. Paul this spring plans to close the grocery store this fall, due to decisions "based on business considerations."

According to a letter sent to West St. Paul Mayor John Zanmiller and Dakota County Board of Commissioners chair Liz Workman Sept. 10 to fulfill requirements of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, "employment separations" are expected to start Nov. 9, if the company's plans are finalized. Most of the 80 employees affected are part time.

"Bumping arrangements are not available for affected employees unless provided for under union agreements," says the letter from Jerry's Enterprises, Inc. Some of the employees are represented by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1189.

In talks for some time

SuperValu, Inc. purchased 10 Rainbow Foods locations, not including the West St. Paul store, in May for $35 million, taking control of the majority of Minnesota sites as Roundy's sold them off.

Since Jerry's Enterprises bought the West St. Paul location at 1660 South Robert St., city staffers have been working with the company to bring in a new business that would not compete with Jerry's grocery stores.

"Anything but a grocery store," said Jim Hartshorn, West St. Paul's community development director. "It would make a great redevelopment site."

It would appear South Robert Street is well stocked grocery-wise.

The 4-acre parcel is between Wal-Mart at 1644 and Target at 1750, with Cub Foods a bit farther at the 2001 address. Just a half-mile east of Robert, in Inver Grove Heights, Aldi is located at 1414 Mendota Road E. 

Right-sized spot

Hartshorn said there have been some inquiries about the land. 

It's one of few locations in West St. Paul that offers enough depth for sufficient parking and to satisfy other codes, zoning and regulations, offering the city a "unique opportunity" for redevelopment. Usually developers have to combine smaller sites to satisfy current rules, Hartshorn said.

"We want something unique; something we don't have," he said. "Something that would be a big draw to our town center."

According to online Dakota County property records, the total property value is about $4.6 million.

Hartshorn said the hope is to match or exceed the around $200,000 in annual property-tax revenue Rainbow brought in. 

"We think we can do much better with (the right kind of business)," Hartshorn said.

As Zanmiller pointed out, the Rainbow Foods spot is especially appealing, because it's tucked between Wal-Mart and Target, not far off of Highway 52. 

Zanmiller said the property could attract the "wish-list" kind of businesses that residents request.

"When residents say there’s a business they’d like to see in town, we keep that in mind," the mayor said. "Although it’s a sad situation with the loss of jobs, we anticipate that this prime space will attract a lot of interest."

Kaitlyn Roby can be reached at 651-748-7815 and kroby@lillienews.com. Follow her at twitter.com/KRobyNews.

 
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