ST. CLOUD -- St. Cloud's Economic Development Authority has some big projects to work on in the new year. Board Chair King Banaian says the now-vacant Herberger's building in downtown St. Cloud is a top priority.

We're talking with their ownership and trying to figure out what ideas they might have.  Should it continue to be a shopping center?  Should it be something different?  What do we do with the space nearby in the former Ciatti's area?  There's a lot to consider.  Places that have been built as stores have a certain design and you don't easily convert them into something else.

Herberger's parent company announced the store's closure in April. The building has been for sale since June. The store closed in August.

Banaian says redeveloping the Cooper Avenue site and the current Technical High School site are also top priorities in the new year. There has been talk of developing some type of mixed-use retail and residential project on both locations. However, Banaian questions whether we need more retail in town.

We've seen the level of employment in retail fall over the last 15 years, and on the other hand, we've had the number of people working in manufacturing rise.  We've also had people working in professional areas rise.  So there may be a different mix.  There may be an opportunity to put perhaps a medical center in one of those spaces.

He says he also expects some action along East St. Germain Street next year, however, the EDA Board has not been directly involved in anything there so far.

Another project Banaian expects the EDA board to be involved in eventually is redeveloping the Electrolux site.  However, he says even after they close the plant at the end of next year, he expects it will take the company at least six months after that to move out all of their equipment so that's is more of a 2020 project.