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Thieves make off with $20,000 statue from boulevard of Minnesota shopping center

Two frogs on rocks, a dog on a log, and a shoe are all that remain of a $20,000 statue stolen from the boulevard of a Woodbury shopping center. Its stay at the South Tamarack Square was a short one. After purchasing the two-building shopping cent...

Statue
The statue in its former glory. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Two frogs on rocks, a dog on a log, and a shoe are all that remain of a $20,000 statue stolen from the boulevard of a Woodbury shopping center.

Its stay at the South Tamarack Square was a short one.

After purchasing the two-building shopping center formerly anchored by Viking Electric Supply for $4.4 million in late 2014, iMetro Property moved the bronze Jim Davidson sculpture of three children walking on a log with their dog to Woodbury, only to have part of it stolen last month.

Sometime in early April, the leg of one statue was sawed off at the shoe top and bolts connecting the statutes to the log were cut.

It would've taken a herculean effort to carry it off, because the artwork weighs about 1 ton, said Michael Roess, owner of iMetro. The police report says the missing pieces were estimated to weigh more than 500 pounds.

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About a year ago, iMetro transplanted the sculpture from the site of the Wasabi building in the 900 block of Washington Ave. in Minneapolis, where Roess plans to build a 138-room hotel near the Minnesota Vikings' new U.S. Bank Stadium in time for Super Bowl LII.

The police report noted the original cost of the artwork at $20,000. It came with the Wasabi building when iMetro bought it.

Roess and his wife, Anne, live in Edina and collect art, primarily LeRoy Neiman's sailboats, Roess said. When the Minneapolis hotel plans called for the statues to be moved, Roess decided to relocate it to 8160 Coller Way, near Tamarack Village.

"We're collectors," Roess said. "We contemplated moving it to the house a couple of times."

Instead, they opted for placing the statues at the new shopping center, because "we wanted to create an upscale feel," Roess said.

After a decade of vacancies the shopping center is thriving, with tenants including Salons by JC, Tailor Made Nutrition, Maxville, Woodbury Family Chiropractic, New Uses, Title Boxing Club, Corepower Yoga & Spa, and Elements Therapeutic Massage.

Still, a year's worth of crimes has occurred at the rentals in Woodbury, surprising its landlords, Roess said. "We just never contemplated this here."

iMetro has experience in working with local police to clean up its redevelopment properties. Roess operates out of the shopping center that contains Shooters Billiards Club & Cafe, a project that iMetro successfully redeveloped. iMetro worked with the local police to decrease crime at the shopping center in Burnsville and Roess expects to do it again in Woodbury.

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While South Tamarack Square is iMetro's first property in Woodbury, Roess said the company would like to do more here. Unfortunately, the first foray into Woodbury has been difficult. Tools had been stolen, and a rash of break-ins occurred, Roess said.

The final straw was theft of an art piece he and his wife loved. On April 6, a maintenance employee reported the theft of the statues to police, who have been asked to increase patrol of the area.

Police also have the ability to alert scrapyards of stolen property in hopes of preventing the artwork from being recycled, Roess said, so stealing the statues might prove to be in vain.

"I wish someone would just drop them back off," Roess said.

Related Topics: CRIME
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