MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The removal of the Kmart that currently blocks Nicollet Avenue at Lake Street in South Minneapolis is one step closer to reality.

The Minneapolis City Council has authorized city staff to move forward with the agreement reached with the retail chain to buy out the store’s lease on the property in question.

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“Today’s approval of the agreement to buy out the remaining Kmart lease is the final piece that will allow us to move forward with reopening Nicollet Avenue at Lake Street, the result of years of preparations from City staff and policymakers,” City Council President Lisa Bender said. “Thank you to all of the community members who have made this a priority, I look forward to working together to dream big about the future of this area while working to protect existing residents and businesses from displacement.”

City staff will begin the process of preparing to demolish the structures later this year.

Earlier this month, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced a deal had been reached.

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“Unblocking this artery is key to unlocking transit potential for Minneapolis,” Frey said. “Our city’s ability to seize this opportunity came as a result of deliberate preparation over many years. This is a momentous day for our entire city.”

The store has stood there since 1977, bisecting Nicollet along Lake Street even as the retailer closed many of its outlets nationwide in recent years.

Kmart has had a land lease on the property, including renewal rights, that could have kept the store in its spot until at least 2053.

For a number of years, the City of Minneapolis had been negotiating its way to a deal that would ultimately lead to the closure of the block-blocking building, and ultimately restore the stretch of Nicollet Mall connecting Eat Street to the Lyndale and Kingfield neighborhoods.

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The deal will reportedly cost the city approximately $9.1 million.