WAITE PARK – Waite Park officials are exploring ways to pay the estimated $3.2 million it will cost the city if a possible Wal-Mart development along Minnesota Highway 23 and 10th Avenue South moves forward.

Total retail space of multiple buildings could be more than 450,000 square feet, a city traffic-impact analysis shows. That includes a 215,000-square-foot retail store, as well as three other buildings and a gas station.

The cost of road and other improvements needed to support the development area is expected to be $12.5 million, with the city paying an estimated $3.2 million of that cost, a September city memo says.

One option is development impact fees, council member Paul Ringsmuth said.

“We have a pretty good way of making this work, but the attorney is still checking out the legality of this,” Ringsmuth said.

Ringsmuth did not comment on which companies may locate in the development, but he said “it would be a really nice addition to our city that might even further more development in the future.”

Wal-Mart agreements

The possibility that a Wal-Mart could be built in two years is indicated by a city agreement with the company in August and subsequent documents.

Waite Park agreed to prepare an environmental assessment worksheet and traffic-impact analysis of the proposed development, and Wal-Mart would reimburse the city for administrative, engineering and legal expenses up to $35,000.

Park City LLC has agreed to sell about 53 acres of land near Menards to Wal-Mart, according to a June memo to the city that is on letterhead from Miller Properties & Investments. The project has been called the Miller development in city documents and at council meetings.

Tom Bosl, president of Miller, said Wal-Mart agreed to negotiate with Park City LLC, which owns the property, but no transaction has been made. A deal could be made by next summer, he said. Miller has common ownership with Park City.

The city refers to the Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club project in a letter about the agreement and in its accounting system. Sam’s Club is a division of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Bosl said he did not know whether that means both Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club could move in.

Wal-Mart did not return a message Tuesday about the possible development.

“For years they’ve been searching for multiple sites in our metro area,” said Matt Glaesman, St. Cloud’s community development director. He did not know if the company plans to continue operating or close the St. Cloud Wal-Mart on 33rd Street if a store is built in Waite Park.

Glaesman said officials watch the market to determine how many stores may be needed in the area.

Business Editor Britt Johnsen contributed to this report.