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Law firm poised to aid State Farm building's future

Woodbury City Council members expressed interest in hiring a law firm to help find a solution for the vacant State Farm Insurance property.

The firm would seek legislative action to "help make this a more competitive site," said City Administrator Clint Gridley.

Council members took no action on the item at a Wednesday workshop meeting, but support for Gridley's proposal appeared strong.

"It's a priority for us to do something with the site," Council member Amy Scoggins said of the State Farm campus, located at Interstate 94 and Radio Drive.

Gridley said the city hopes to ride this legislative session's wave calling for expanded economic activity in Minnesota.

"This could be a good poster child," he said of possibilities for the State Farm project.

An initial cost estimate for the law firm's services was $50,000, but Gridley said that could be reduced if efforts don't reach the Legislature.

"We don't know if we've got something that's going to get there," he said.

Council members also heard from developer Steve Wellington, who described features of a concept plan he has unfurled that calls for a redevelopment of the State Farm property, which has sat empty since 2005.

His plan - which is not under formal city review - would make the property a mixed-use facility blending financial offices, a wholesale retailer and senior housing.

The initial $68 million Wellington Management plan would require the council adopt extensive land-use changes for the property.

Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens said the Wellington plan is not mutually exclusive from the direction council members set out on Wednesday.

"I think the approaches can run simultaneously," she said.

Read more about the State Farm building saga in the Jan. 26 print edition.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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