Lynn Holdings takes hold of empty Kmart lot

Work is underway to inject new life into the property that has been called “the old Kmart” for the better part of a year.

Local developer and Portage Common Council Alderman Richard Lynn got behind the controls of a bulldozer Friday morning to tear out the trees and shrubs in front of the property, now owned by the newly formed Lynn Holdings.

Helping in the effort were his partners, including Jason Adamany, one of the stakeholders in the venture.

“We’re going to do a complete re-development of the site,” said Adamany. “Now we’re clearing out some of the dead and overgrown trees and when we’re done it’s going to look really nice.”

Adamany is founder and president of the Madison-based IT consulting firm Adesys, with his brother, Tim, who is web director of the firm. The two were approached by Lynn, whom they had known for years, about forming a partnership to do something with the unused property.

“With the county building development and Divine Savior’s expansion,” Lynn said, “If you want to invest in Portage, now is the time.”

But untangling the legal status of the property took some effort. The previous owner of the 15-acre property was California-based FHS Waseca-Portage L.P., under Manager Assets Inc. who took over the deed as of July 29, 1997. The Kmart closed in April 2014 and the owners declared bankruptcy at which point the property went into receivership.

To take ownership of the property, Lynn, with the Adamany brothers and Jason Lu, who worked at Lynn’s World Buffet, before it was closed due to a fire this spring, had to put together an agreement that with several banks in different states, separate the property from its ties to commercial property in Minnesota, and finally get the approving signature of Judge Daniel George in the Columbia County Circuit Court.
The paperwork was approved Thursday and work began Friday. The deal had not yet made its way to the county record, but the crew was not about to waste time. The details of the purchase have yet to be made public.

“I’ve been looking at this site for about 15 years when Kmart got in trouble,” said Lynn. “Then Sears jumped in and helped them and that kind of delayed it. Then when that didn’t work I got back involved over the last seven to eight years.”

“I’ve been working with them,” said Portage Director of Business Development and Planning Steven Sobiek, “and he certainly took the bull by the horns.”

According to Sobiek, Lynn’s group’s offer was not the only one on the table, but it apparently provided a suitable combination of price and conditions to win George’s approval.

Now that they are breaking ground — at least in the front yard — the plan is to have the property fully renovated by 2016. As ambitious as the group is, it is flexible, with the website going online in the next week, there is an open invitation for suggestions of what locals would like to see done with the property.

Immediately, there was some concern with trees being uprooted, but Adamany gave a hopeful long-term assessment: “ I can understand the concern that people want to protect trees, but we’ll be putting trees in when we’re all done and it’ll look a lot better than it did before.”

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