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New broker sees promise at long-stalled development

There are roads, but not much else to show for the years since development began at Vermillion River Crossings.

A new real estate broker has high hopes for Farmington's long-dormant Vermillion River Crossings development.

In charge of marketing the property since the beginning of June, Coldwell Banker vice president of special asset solutions Dale Severson told members of the Farmington Economic Development Authority Monday that there is reason to believe progress is coming soon for a project that was viewed as the next significant expansion of Farmington's commercial offerings before it stalled thanks to a slowing economy and internal issues with the development.

Severson pointed specifically to the success of the three businesses currently occupying the development -- a McDonald's, a medical clinic and a recently completed senior-housing project -- as reasons to believe the area has potential. McDonald's does steady business, he said, the clinic is well established and the senior housing is filling fast.

"There's a desire out there for that property," Severson said. "My goal, my objective is to work with developers, to work with some retailers I'm familiar with or have worked with in the past ... to present to them that appeal.

"If you went out there and there were one or two cars in the lot, I'd be nervous."

Severson, who told EDA members he specializes in dealing with troubled properties, has already met with city staff to discuss the best way to market Farmington to potential developers.

There has been some interest in the property over the years. Severson mentioned a grocery store and a dental clinic as businesses that at one point considered building at Vermillion River Crossings, and he said he wants to see if he can interest them again. Mayor Todd Larson said he talked at Dew Days' Flavors of Farmington event with a Farmington resident who owns Culvers restaurants in Lakeville and Apple Valley and might be interested in building locally.

U.S. Federal Credit Union has bought one of the lots in the development, but Severson said it is their approach to buy property in several promising areas and sit on it until growth warrants construction.

Vermillion River Crossings was originally planned as a continuation of downtown Farmington, with a street plan and building designs meant to mimic a traditional downtown and the parking typically demanded by businesses like grocery stores tucked behind the buildings. Severson said it will depend on the developers he finds whether that plan is maintained.

EDA members had a few questions for Severson, but mostly they had a request. Mayor Todd Larson said one of the EDA's biggest problems with earlier efforts to develop Vermillion River Crossings was the fact it was hard to get information about what was happening. EDA members -- most of whom are also city council members -- field a lot of questions about the project and were not always able to give answers, Larson said.

Severson said he would keep EDA members and city staff updated on his progress.

His presentation Monday left EDA members optimistic that progress is coming soon.

"I'm really excited for the fresh start," Larson said.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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