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Aldi will open in former Rainbow Foods site later this year

Posted on 28 October 2018 by calvin

Charter school building complete; focus shifts to grocery store and retail as part two of redevelopment phase

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
Aldi will open in the former Rainbow Foods space at 2912 28th Ave. S. in November or December.

The grocery store is part of a second phase for redeveloping the site.

During the first phase of Minnehaha Commons, Universal Academy Charter School used a section of the former grocery store during the 2017-18 school year while a 19,600-square-foot second-story addition for classroom space was built on the back side of the building. To accommodate the addition, a single-family home on the property was torn down. The addition was completed over the summer and Universal Academy moved into the new addition at the start of the 2018-19 school year.

Wellington has now shifted focus to the front of the building near the parking lot.

“We are excited to renovate a tired building and bring new life and energy to this block,” stated Wellington Management Director of Acquisitions and Development David Wellington. “After sitting vacant for several years, the project will once again be an amenity to the neighborhood by bringing jobs, a successful school, and neighborhood-serving retail to the Longfellow community.”

Renovation underway
Built in 1984, Rainbow Foods closed in 2014 after the store was purchased by Jerry’s Enterprises as part of a 27-store deal that reshaped the Twin Cities grocery scene. The building and 6-acre lot were purchased by Wellington Management Company two years later for $5.35 million, according to Hennepin County records. This is Wellington’s first foray into developing property on the east side of Hiawatha. The Minnehaha Commons project continues the efforts of Wellington that began more than a decade ago with projects such as Hi-Lake Shopping Center, the Greenway Office Building, Corridor Flats, Lake Street Station, and the Blue Line Flats.

Photo left: Work is now underway renovating the west side of the former Rainbow Foods building for Aldi and the adjacent retail. The entire west facade will be replaced. Various pedestrian improvements will be made adjacent to the new retail entrances including new sidewalks, a raised pedestrian crossing connecting Aldi to the parking lot, plantings and bike racks. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

The total project cost, including acquisition, phase one (Universal Academy expansion) and phase two (Aldi/retail renovation) is approximately $18 million. This does not include additional tenant improvements being made by Aldi and future retail tenants.

Wellington does not own Schooner Tavern, just north of the Rainbow building at 2901 27th Ave. S. and it is not part of this project.

Work is now underway renovating the west side of the Rainbow building for Aldi and the adjacent retail. The entire west facade will be replaced. Various pedestrian improvements will be made adjacent to the new retail entrances including new sidewalks, a raised pedestrian crossing connecting Aldi to the parking lot, plantings and bike racks.

Taken together, the Rainbow site, Cub land, and Target property represent the second largest piece of continuous asphalt in the city of Minneapolis, pointed out Wellington. The city’s plans for the area call for greater density due to the light rail line, which Wellington Management has focused on providing as it redevelops the area.

Phase 3: affordable housing
Stage three includes the construction of a mixed-use building on the northwest corner of the parking lot. It will have 90 units of affordable housing for seniors, and 15,000 square feet of retail space on the ground level. This portion of the project is behind schedule as Wellington Management works to put the financial pieces together to make it affordable.

“We are working diligently to secure public financing sources needed to build the affordable housing project,” said Wellington. “We are hopeful that Phase 3 construction can begin in late 2019, but it’s more likely to start in early 2020.”

Photo right: Universal Academy Charter School moved into a 19,600-square-foot second-story addition built on the back side of the building in time for classes to begin for the 2018-19 school year. (Photo submitted)

Wellington Management tried to purchase the Auto Zone property at the corner of E. Lake and Minnehaha, but the property owners were not interested in selling. So they signed a long-term agreement with Wendy’s to remain there for 20 years, and the building was given a facelift.

Wellington also plans to construct a single-story 3,500-square-foot retail building in the existing parking lot area not being used by Wendy’s along Minnehaha.

Will Aldi close existing store?
Aldi has not confirmed whether it will move out of the existing store at 2100 E. Lake St. or whether it will keep it open, according to Wellington.

With more than 1,800 stores across the country, Aldi is in the midst of an accelerated growth plan, investing more than $5 billion to remodel and expand its store count to 2,500 by the end of 2022. Aldi is more than halfway through its remodel investment. The new Aldi store layout features additional refrigeration space to accommodate more fresh, healthy and convenient products.

“The continued success of our store expansion and remodel initiatives has given us the opportunity to carefully select and introduce new products that satisfy our customers’ increasing preferences for fresh items, including organic meats, salad bowls, sliced fruits, and gourmet cheeses,” said Jason Hart, CEO of Aldi U.S. “We know people lead busy lives, so we’re making it even easier for them to purchase everything on their shopping list at Aldi, while still saving money.”

As part of the expansion, Aldi is increasing its fresh food selection by 40 percent with new items, including:
• More ready-to-cook and organic fresh meats to make meal preparation more convenient, including organic chicken breasts and marinated cilantro lime chicken breasts.
• Expanded produce selection, including veggie noodles and ready-to-eat sliced fruits, such as mango, pineapple, and watermelon spears, and more organics.
• Expanding its Earth Grown line with new vegan and vegetarian options, such as kale and quinoa crunch burgers, and chickenless patties and tenders.

More than 40 million customers each month use the simple, streamlined approach Aldi brings to retailing. Aldi sells frequently purchased grocery and household items, primarily under its exclusive brands.

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