Long-vacant Menards site is humming again

The long-vacant Menards building on West Highway 13 in Burnsville has been purchased by Fairchild Equipment of Green Bay, Wis. Photo by Rick Orndorf

Green Bay firm
purchases property

Business is finally starting to hum again at the long-vacant former Menards store in Burnsville.

Fairchild Equipment, which sells and services forklifts and construction equipment, has bought the 95,400-square-foot building at 3100 Highway 13 W.

The Green Bay, Wis.-based company will be its largest occupant, with school-bus contractor Durham Student Services and NAPA Auto Parts also renting space.

Durham, which this year won the school-bus contract in the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District, is already storing its buses in back of the building and using 9,000 square feet inside for its main dispatch center.

NAPA will occupy about 13,000 square feet and is expected to move in May 1. Fairchild will move in in February and occupy about 50,000 square feet, said company owner and President Gary Fairchild.

The company paid $3 million for the property, which includes the Liquorville liquor-store building, Fairchild said. The sale was closed Oct. 5.

“The mayor was very happy when I bought it,” Fairchild said.

The 12-acre property has been vacant for about six years, since Menards moved into a new store next to the old one. Menards redeveloped the old Cub Foods site at 2700 Highway 13 W. when Cub built a new store at Nicollet Plaza in Burnsville’s Heart of the City.

The old Menards building had vandalism and code-enforcement problems during its vacancy, according to City Planner Chris Slania.

Mayor Elizabeth Kautz even suggested to Costco Wholesale representatives in 2008 that they consider the building for their planned warehouse store in Burnsville. Costco went with a site on Burnhaven Drive in the County Road 42 corridor.

“We’re very happy to have this building occupied,” Slania said. “They’ve already started some exterior improvements, and there are going to be more to come in the spring. We’re very happy to get some tenants in there.”

Menards, a chain of home-improvement stores, continued to own the property after closing the old store, Slania said.

“I can’t say if they were actively looking for tenants or buyers,” he said. “I do know we got approached pretty regularly by people looking to occupy the building.”

Noble RV, an Owatonna-based recreational-vehicle dealership, sought to buy the building earlier this year.

“They came to an impasse with Menards on purchase price and financing and so forth, and that just came to a stop,” Slania said.

Fairchild Equipment, which sells and services Yale-brand forklift trucks, acquired Yale’s Minnesota territory in 2001 and opened a location in Ham Lake, Fairchild said.

It became clear that the company, which makes many service calls, also needed a south metro location, he said.

“Having technicians and parts as close to the customer as possible is very important,” Fairchild said.

The company will spend more than $2 million on building improvements, he said.

“When you walked in, you really had to have some vision of how you could make it into a friendly place for a bunch of different tenants,” Fairchild said. “We kind of had that vision, and it’s worked, and we’re very happy with the outcome.”

Fairchild Equipment will initially employee 10 to 15 people at the Burnsville location and eventually employ 30 to 40, Fairchild said.

The new NAPA space is an expansion of its nearby location on the other side of Highway 13, Slania said.

Durham, the school-bus company, is vacating the First Student bus garage and dispatch center, also on Highway 13. It initially leased the First Student after winning the local bus contract.