Residents crowd meeting for information and to share input on grocery store proposed for ‘town square retail’ site
By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
Over 100 residents showed up at the Hiawatha School Recreation Center to talk about a potential grocery store at 46th St. and Hiawatha during a Feb. 23 community meeting, filling up the available space and spilling into the hallway.
‘Why a grocery store at this site?’ wondered some.
Illustration right: A market analysis shows that $1.5 million in grocery store sales are leaving the trade area each week. Grocery offerings not currently in the trade area include a hot bar with indoor/outdoor seating, a full deli, a bakery, floral and ethnic/specialty foods.(Illustration provided)
Oppidan has proposed investing $38-44 million in a five-story building. The 5.7-acre parcel that currently houses the Creative Kidstuff building, and sits adjacent to the Burger King, Holiday, strip mall and Falls Liquor.
According to Drew Johnson, Oppidan’s planning began with a review of the city’s transit-oriented development guidelines for the area, starting with the 2001 committee recommendations for the neighborhood and followed by the 2014 update.
Phase one would include 45,000 square feet of retail on the ground level with 146 apartments in upper levels and resident parking beneath. To encourage residents to use the nearby public transportation options, there would be less than one parking space allocated per apartment, according to Johnson. A second-story plaza would be used by building residents while a smaller outdoor plaza on the ground floor would be used by shoppers.
“Everything is preliminary,” stressed Johnson.
Photo right: According to Drew Johnson of Oppidan, phase one of the project would include 45,000 square feet of retail on the ground level with 146 apartments in upper levels and parking beneath for residents. Developers have not yet selected a specific grocery store, but note the space available would fit a medium-size store. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)
Developers have not yet selected a specific grocery store to fit into the 45,000 sq ft retail space, but note the space available would fit a medium-size store. To put that in perspective, a Hyvee is typically 90,000 sq ft, a Cub ranges from 65-80,000 sq ft, Lunds & Byerly’s range from 50-90,000 sq ft, a Trader Joe’s is 12,000 sq ft, and an Aldi is 19,000 sq ft.
A large, underground system would collect water run-off and treat it.
Other green space would be along the former railroad track, which those with the Mi Hi Line Coalition (www.minhiline.org) envision becoming a bike/walk trail and linear park.
Residents are concerned about traffic on 46th, especially the area near the railroad tracks where traffic currently empties onto the heavily traveled street.
“My concern with any development in this area is the traffic it will bring,” stated resident Kevin Baumgartner. “This is a really bad stretch of 46th.” He questioned adding another stoplight between the one on Hiawatha and Minnehaha Ave., and how it would add to the bottleneck near Burger King and Holiday. Plus he pointed out that those on the trail will want to cross 46th there and not move east to a stoplight.
Johnson acknowledged that traffic is a concern in the area, and pointed out that it was brought up by residents at the first community meeting on the project held in January.
They are currently working on a traffic management plan with the goal of improving traffic in the area, he pointed out.
Photo right: Residents Zak R. Stephens, Maja Bjornson, and Deb Stancevic learn about the development planned near 46th and Hiawatha during a community meeting on Feb. 23. Stancevic is excited about the plans and has been pushing for a grocery store in the area. Bjornson is a 61-year neighborhood resident and lives adjacent to the proposed site. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)
Developers are asking, “How low do we think traffic can go?” according to Johnson, and have set the goal of seeing at least 50% of residents use another form of transportation than a car. They’re also hoping that shoppers use the Blue Line, A Line, and other public transit options, as well as the nearby trail system for biking and walking.
Snelling extension, access closures
The plan to extend Snelling Ave. into the site and curve it over to Hiawatha would provide access to the area. The exact route of the roadway has not been determined, but eventually it would likely be the only access point from the retail area onto 46th.
Baumgartner pushed for the closure of the other accesses right away. “We can’t wait 20 years when there is a 40,000 sq ft grocery store there. Traffic is bad,” he said. “We need a future plan now.”
Bernard pointed out that the developer will need to meet current standards and mitigate the impacts of traffic from the site. However, the city can’t just remove accesses to businesses.
“We need to maintain access for private property owners to the street system,” said Bernard.
Additionally, 46th St. needs to be rebuilt within the next few years as it is at the end of its life. It may be done in the 2019-2020 Capital Improvement Project cycle; however, the county has 10 years worth of projects for the next five years, according to Hennepin County Transportation Engineer Bob Byers.
Residents expressed concerns about the hostile environment between Hiawatha and Minnehaha and suggested that more trees be planted.
Park Board won’t manage Linear Park
A bike/walk trail in this area would create a protected connection between the Midtown Greenway and Minnehaha Pkwy., and complete the Longfellow Grand Rounds, as noted in the Minneapolis Bicycle Master Plan.
However, District 5 Park Commissioner Steffanie Musich stressed that this trail will not be managed by the Park and Recreation Board, but rather by the city or county like the Midtown Greenway.
“This is not an area we have planned to invest in public land,” said Musich. “I don’t see us taking that on.”
While the Park Board had once owned the former railroad land, in 2007 it traded it to the city as representatives then thought it would make a good transit corridor. In return, the Park Board received the riverfront from Plymouth to Broadway in North Minneapolis, an area not as well served as South Minneapolis regarding parks.
Of course, Park Board planners will work with the city to connect any trails in the development to its existing trail system.
The main connection the Park Board would have with the project is that it would benefit from the park dedication fees paid by the developer. They could range from $230,000-280,000 and be used at the nearby Adams Triangle Park, Hiawatha School Park or Minnehaha Park. The money can’t be used on operations or to replace an amenity, but can be used on new amenities, according to Musich. For example, they couldn’t be used to fix a baseball field, but could be used to install multi-purpose fields at Hiawatha School Park.
Musich responded to a concern about the lack of enough trash cans at parks and how late bathrooms open in the spring. She pointed out that thanks to the financial agreement made with the city last year, the Park Board is working on an asset management plan and mapping out where items, such as trash cans, should be placed each season. With the additional funds, the Park Board will also hire more plumbers to open bathrooms quicker each spring. “This will get things done that affect your experience at the parks,” said Musich.
Share your opinions
“I am thrilled to see the turnout tonight,” said council member Andrew Johnson, who added that it shows how engaged the community is and how important this project it. “We will continue to take feedback on this important project that is really at the heart of our community,” he said.
To comment, contact the Longfellow Community Council or Johnson’s office.