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Investment group looks to inject new life into old State Farm site

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The former State Farm property will have medical offices, small retail shops, a 150-room hotel, walkable trails and a high-end grocery store, according to ambitious plans revealed Thursday by the investment group Elion.

Juan DeAngulo, partner and chief operating officer for Elion, said the campus, now dubbed “Woodbury Corporate Center” will no longer be an isolated, stand-alone building that requires a large corporation to fill all 450,000 square feet.

“It has soul and heart to it,” he said of the concept plan, noting that walkable trails and amenities will be attractive to companies seeking places with accompanying shops and restaurants for their employees. “It’s all about creating connectivity across the site.”

DeAngulo said Elion is under contract with State Farm, but will not close on the property until it gets official approval from the city of Woodbury.

So far city officials have welcomed the designs and Elion’s vision for the site that falls somewhere in the middle of a large isolated corporation and big box retail.

“The retail is designed to fit in the corporate campus,” Woodbury Community Development Director Dwight Picha said. “It’s not the big box concept.”

Washington County Board Chairwoman Lisa Weik said the former State Farm property, which sat empty for eight years, is the biggest topic of discussion outside of county policy.

“The community is very interested to know how many jobs this could bring,” she said Thursday.

Woodbury lost 1,500 jobs when State Farm moved out of the city in 2005.Specific details on how many jobs will be recovered as part of this plan, or specific names of businesses coming in, have not yet been announced.

Weik said the plans complement the county’s vision for improved transit along Interstate 94, or the “Gateway Corridor,” currently under study for a possible bus rapid transit or a light rail line along Hudson Road.

Included in the Woodbury Corporate Center designs is a “Main Street” idea bringing “life to the building,” where small shops located within the campus would give employees opportunities to walk to places like lunch, the gym or everyday services, DeAngulo said.

“The designs that you’re looking at reflect input from all the groups,” he said. “We agree with the city that a big box would create some challenges.”

Adding a hotel to the site would benefit employees and visitors of the two office buildings as well as nearby Cabela’s currently under construction, DeAngulo added.

Architect Dean Dovolis said the plan for the site will be to divide it up into the following: two office buildings at 50,000 square feet each, a 150 room hotel, a high-end grocery store at 40,000 square feet, plus all the adjoining retail.

The company plans to continue working with the city before requesting the necessary permits to move forward and close on the property in the first quarter of 2014.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.