BY KIM VAN METER

Ideas abound for the empty Kmart building on Oakdale’s east end but an integral piece of the puzzle remains out of reach — the City of Oakdale doesn’t own the building, a fact that repeatedly gets lost in the ongoing discussion of what to do with the space.
Currently, the space is owned by Benderson Development, LLC out of Florida, and they’ve expressed zero interest in turning the space into a roller rink, bowling alley, kids rec center, or various food courts, as suggested by community members on social media.
While hopes were high that Target might occupy the space, talks ultimately died two years ago when Target representatives officially declined to take a chance on Oakdale despite ardent attempts to lure the retailer to the Cowboy Capital.
“Despite our best efforts Target representatives reminded us that they already have a store located eight miles away from the center of Oakdale and that they were not interested in locating into Oakdale at that time,” City Manager Bryan Whitemyer explained.
Following Target’s decision, city leaders attempted to reach Walmart representatives but were never granted a meeting.
While some community members grumbled about Kmart while it was in operation, now that the empty space has become a bigger problem for the community, some have admitted they miss having the one-stop shopping opportunity they once took for granted.
“It was nice to be able to run in and get whatever you needed, like underwear or socks, something simple, and household goods at the same time,” said one community member. “I miss having it around.”
And the city leaders agree — finding another use for the large commercial property is a priority.
“The City of Oakdale would love to have another large tenant in that building serving the good people of Oakdale,” Whitemyer said in an official statement. “We would love to see the parking lot full with our residents and travelers shopping at that store.”
However, as dedicated and open to a new business opportunity the city is, contrary to popular belief, they can’t make the property owners enter into a business relationship against their will.
Whitemyer assured, “The City of Oakdale will continue to work with commercial real estate brokers, Opportunity Stanislaus and others in an effort to bring new businesses to our community.”