•Click here to read more about the South Dakota-based company behind the renovation of Elk River’s former Target store.
•Click here to read more about the new Pizza Ranch coming to Elk River.
Four new businesses are opening in Elk Park Center area
by Joni Astrup
Four new businesses are coming to Elk River as the area in and around the old Target store gets a new lease on life.
The former Target at 19146 Freeport Ave. is being renovated and turned into a Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft store, an Ashley Furniture HomeStore and a Furniture Mart.
Across the street at 19141 Freeport Ave. the former Movie Gallery is being remodeled into a Pizza Ranch restaurant.
The Ashley Furniture HomeStore will officially open Monday, Nov. 7.
Gordy Wallenstein, president of Furniture Outlets USA, said the Furniture Mart will then be finished and open in about six to eight weeks.
Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft will have a “soft opening” Nov. 11, with the official grand opening on Nov. 17, according to Tamara Peterson, store manager.
Peterson, who who comes to Elk River from the Jo-Ann’s in Minnetonka, said it’s unbelieveable how excited people are to see Jo-Ann’s open in Elk River.
“It’s pretty cool to see,” she said.
The store has about 48 employees so far but is still hiring. Peterson said interested applicants should just come into the store.
Pizza Ranch, meamwhile, is scheduled to open the first week in December, according to Rob McDonald. He and his wife, Denise, are the restaurant’s owners.
Three years later, a new start for old Target
The transformation of the area comes three years after Target pulled out of Elk River and opened a new SuperTarget in Otsego.
The Elk River Target had opened in 1995 as one of the anchors of what was then the new Elk Park Center shopping center.
Observers with a stake in the area like John Houlton are happy to see the rebirth.
“It’s spectacular. We’re delighted,” Houlton said. He is president and CEO of First National Financial Services, which has a bank across from the former Target and next door to Pizza Ranch.
When Target closed in October 2008, like every other merchant in the area Houlton said they were concerned. They wondered what that would mean for them and the other businesses in the area since Target was such a draw, he said.
However, Houlton said they didn’t see any decrease in traffic after Target left.
“That was sort of shocking to everybody,” he said.
In fact, traffic at the bank’s Elk Park Center location has simply continued to build, he said.
He thinks JoAnn’s — a big box retailer with lots of name recognition — will be a fantastic addition to the area. He’s also pleased to see the vacant Movie Gallery building “spring back to life” as it gets transformed into Pizza Ranch. He said Pizza Ranch has a nice price point and a great reputation and will do very well.
Ron Touchette, president of the Elk River Economic Development Authority (EDA), said the improvements and new businesses are exciting.
“It’s tremendous for Elk River as a whole,” said Touchette, who is the broker and CEO of Rock Solid Companies, a commercial real estate brokerage firm. “… Anytime you do something like that it’s a huge shot in the arm for everybody.”
Touchette said people are excited about JoAnn’s and the other new businesses and said they will draw not only local shoppers but people from outside the area.
Annie Deckert, Elk River’s director of economic development, said the reinvestment in Elk Park Center is a true testament to the economy slowly improving.
She believes the new businesses will drive traffic to that area, and attract more new businesses to the community.
Having Jo-Ann’s, the new furniture stores and Pizza Ranch locate in Elk River reinforces the belief that Elk River is an ideal location that is continuing to grow, she said.
“Not only are we Powered by Nature,” Deckert said, referring to the city’s new brand, “but we’re energized by development.”
About Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft
•Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft is the nation’s largest specialty retailer of fabrics and crafts.
•The company is headquartered in Hudson, Ohio.
•Jo-Ann operates more than 750 stores in 48 states. Its three distribution centers are located in Hudson, Ohio; Visalia, Calif.; and Opelika, Ala.
•The company has more than 22,000 employees.