Bloomington’s Last Working Farm, in the Shadow of the Mall of America, Could Soon Be Sold for Dvelopment

April 13, 2009

For 20 years, Bloomington’s last working farm has served as an odd reminder of the city’s agricultural past, a bucolic sweep of green fields and grazing sheep perched on the Minnesota River bluffs within view of the Mall of America.

Now, the Kelley Farm may finally fall to development. United Properties has a purchase agreement for the 58 acres that makes up the biggest undeveloped piece of property left in Bloomington.

While the farm has a spectacular view of the river, its location near the end of an airport runway safety zone means housing can’t be built on the site. Bill Katter, a United Properties senior vice president for development, says that the purchase agreement requires confidentiality, but if the deal goes through, offices will probably be built. He says he already has interested clients.

“It’s a unique property for its views and proximity to the Mall of America and airport,” he says. “All those things play into our interest to make a deal there.”

The site also presents challenges. Stormwater must be handled on-site before it flows into the river below, but open stormwater ponds can’t be built there because they could attract waterfowl to the runway zone.

The biggest complication is that historical records show 24 Indian burial mounds on the farm. Under state law, burial grounds cannot be disturbed. Katter said he couldn’t comment on those issues until all site studies are done and a purchase is completed. “Our intentions are to develop within the city’s zoning guidelines,” he says.

MaryEJane Smetanka —612-673-7380

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