By Jeff Kiger

After months of being overshadowed by its overachieving southwest sibling, Rochester’s northwest quadrant is preparing to light up a new 30-acre retail and commercial development.

Creekside Commercial, which is being developed by Edina-based Venstar LLC, is mapped out on the southwest corner of the intersection of 19th Street Northwest and West Circle Drive. The project gained early approval from the Rochester City Planning and Zoning Commission Wednesday night.

A total of 12 buildings are proposed for the site, though only three facing 19th Street are planned for the first phase. Those three will sport about 40,000 square feet of space.

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If all 12 buildings go up as proposed, Creekside will end up with more than 200,000 square feet of new Rochester retail and commercial space.

"We think growth has come to that part of town and there is a need for more neighborhood type of retail and commercial, as opposed to the south-side Big Boxes," said Venstar President Nino Pedrelli.

Tenants could include a hotel, a grocery, restaurants and a bank, he said.

"And we could envision a CVS or Walgreens type of drug-store site being part of it, too." Pedrelli said.

Such visions, however, are a ways off.

"This is very preliminary," he says, though the company has started marketing the project.

If everything goes as planned, construction could start in the first quarter of 2008.

The Radichel family of Mankato, which is behind Venstar and its affiliate New Era, has owned the land for more than 20 years, Pedrelli said.

"We are long-term holders, and right now the project is a go for us," he said.

Venstar and New Era also own the Valley High Business Center buildings, Phase I and Phase II, at 3535 40th Ave. N.W.; and the Cascade Park commercial center on Ninth Street Northwest that houses Clarey’s Safety Equipment and AgStar Financial Services.

"We’ve got a big investment in Rochester. You could say we’re bullish on Rochester," he said.