Location: Kmart parking lot, Lake St. & Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis
Time/date: 2:35 pm, Friday, May 25
Ratio of cars to parking spots: 74 to 576
The mother of all Minneapolis empty lots. You almost have to admire this Kmart’s ability to persist in the face of adversity, especially in a town that is more or less owned and operated by Target. And we have no gripe with the store itself—lots of people in the neighborhood shop there, whether out of convenience (it’s highly transit-accessible) or because of its (danger!) falling prices. If no one shopped there, the place would be closed by now. Most Kmarts are. But not only is this parking lot a gross misuse of valuable city space (at the time we visited, during peak hours on a Friday afternoon, over 500 parking spots sat empty), it also blocks one of the city’s busiest (and fastest growing) commercial thoroughfares. It’s as if a suburban superstore dropped from the sky and landed in the middle of Nicollet Ave. How did this happen? The Star Tribune has a good summary of the history here, as well as a discussion of the renewed push to reopen Nicollet to through-traffic.
At least a couple of local entrepreneurs have caught on to the fact that this space has potential uses beyond its current state: two taco trucks—El Primo and Taco Taxi—have set up shop in the lot. The Empty Lots team can vouch for their deliciousness.