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U-Haul, Starbucks, and Domino’s proposed for Hiawatha and 42nd

Posted on 24 April 2018 by calvin

Neighbors concerned about increased traffic, lack of green space and auto-oriented businesses

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
A proposed U-Haul, Starbucks, and Domino’s would transform the Hiawatha and 42nd St. intersection on the east side if approved by the city.

The seven-bay Wash Me car wash on the northeast side will be demolished to make space for two buildings to house a Starbucks and a Domino’s. The proposal was reviewed by the city’s planning commission for the first time on Apr. 12.

City staff expressed substantial concerns about the proposal, due to the location and number of drive-through lanes, principal entrances, and buildings on the site, as well as the lack of pedestrian connections to Hiawatha Ave.

The design includes a 1,928-square-foot building to house the Domino’s on the south side of the site with a drive-through window for call-ahead orders. North of that would be a 2,196-square foot building to house the Starbucks with a double lane drive-through window of its own. Both would be one-story buildings, with a total of 17 parking spaces. One pedestrian connection is planned to 42nd St. but there are none planned for Hiawatha Ave.

The one entrance would be located on the west side of 42nd paired with an exit, and the Domino’s drive-through lane would exit about thirty feet from Hiawatha Ave. on 42nd St.

The Domino’s one-half mile south of this location is expected to close and relocate to this site.

A Starbucks at 4700 Cedar next to Tom’s Popcorn Shop is in the final stage of construction and will open soon.

Illustration right: Neighbors are concerned about how two drive-through businesses on the corner of 42nd St. and Hiawatha Ave. will affect a traffic pattern that they say is already congested. (Graphics submitted)

The 6,765-square-foot Wash Me building at 4155 Hiawatha was constructed in 1985 and is valued at $550,000, according to city property tax records. It is owned by Wash Me Corporation based out of Edina, which also operates car washes at 3957 Nicollet Ave. in Minneapolis and 8940 Excelsior Blvd. in Hopkins. A representative could not be reached for comment.

Too much traffic already
“Two drive-through businesses at an intersection already experiencing traffic issues is unacceptable,” remarked Ericsson resident Jeff Gehardson. He pointed out that he lives 300 feet from that intersection. He already has trouble turning onto his street, and often drives two blocks over to Nokomis to enter 42nd. Plus traveling west across

Hiawatha is already difficult and inefficient because of the timing of the lights and the light-rail trains.

“I am pro-development in the city. I am pro bike. I am pro mixed use. This proposal is frustrating, to say the least,” he said. “Stand alone businesses that depend on dozens upon dozens of $10 sales mean very high traffic. We are not suited for it at all.”

Longfellow resident Bev Tuck doesn’t think this spot is big enough to support these two businesses, and she is concerned this plan doesn’t have enough green space.

“The developers and architects are always from Edina, or Eden Prairie or some other suburb coming into our neighborhoods and taking our land for their investment purposes. They pretend to ask for our input, but they hope to override it,” remarked Tuck. “Traffic congestion and lack of green spaces do not affect their lives—they don’t live here.”

U-haul to raze one building, preserve the other
The U-Haul being proposed on the southeast side of the intersection is farther along in the city review process, and public comment was taken during an Apr. 23 hearing.
The 2.18-acre site at 4225 and 4251 Hiawatha Ave. is currently vacant.

U-Haul plans to raze the large factory building on the south side to construct a five-story climate-controlled, self-service storage center (photo left provided). This building most recently housed Woof Pack Doggy Day Spa, American General, Metropolitan Security, and Hiawatha Commercial Auto Care.

The small building that formerly housed Taylor Star 1 Automotive will be turned into a showroom with model storage rooms for rental selection. Plus, an array of packing and shipping supplies, including cartons, tape, and packing materials, will be for sale.

This building was originally a Mobil Service Station opened by Navy veteran, Bernard “Bum” Flanery in 1957. The Flannery Brothers, Tim and Brian, now own and operate Flannery Brothers Automotive at 2720 E. 42nd St.

Over 250 people have signed a change.org petition aimed at preserve this historic building. U-Haul plans to keep the iconic Pegasus horse and install antique gas pumps to give the nod to the history of Longfellow while still looking toward the future, according to U-Haul Southern Minnesota President Chris Bohlman.

The service station is also a nod to U-Haul’s history.

“For decades, well before we had company-owned stores, the business of U-Haul truck and trailer sharing was conducted out of small service stations like this one that would serve their communities as U-Haul neighborhood dealers. That practice dates to 1945,” observed Bohlman. “To this day, our dealers play a pivotal role and account for the bulk of our network across the U.S. and Canada with more than 20,000 locations.

“U-Haul celebrates history, culture, and legacy. We have a track record of preserving historic buildings, and we stand passionately behind our adaptive reuse program.”

Green initiatives
Through its adaptive reuse of old and often vacated properties for new U-Haul stores, the company helps eliminate blight, cuts down on new building materials, and keeps old building teardowns out of landfills, said Bohlman.

Photo right: A proposal before the city would tear down the existing Wash Me car wash and replace it with two one-story buildings to house a Starbucks and Domino’s Pizza. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

U-Haul also offers and promotes several green programs. Customers gift used furniture and household goods to one another at the Re-Use Centers at U-Haul stores.

Through the Take a Box, Leave a Box program, customers drop off and pick up used boxes in useable condition for free so that they may be reused. U-Haul uses furniture pads made from recycled denim, and biodegradable packing peanuts made of corn and potato starch, which keeps styrofoam out of landfills.

“Our sustainability platform demands we make an effort to find store and dealer locations that are within a few blocks of public transportation to reduce the need for excess driving,” pointed out Bohlman. He believes that being just a few blocks from a light rail terminal will significantly cut down on traffic and benefit the neighborhood.

The Hiawatha Ave. location will accommodate families that require access to and from downtown, and all of the neighborhoods to the south of town.

There is currently just one U-Haul facility in Minneapolis. It’s located at 3545 Nicollet Ave. and is on 0.43 acres of land.

“The Twin Cities are arguably the most underserved metropolitan area in all of North America with regard to U-Haul self-move and self-storage facilities,” said Bohlman.

Currently, more than half of U-Haul’s customers in Minneapolis proper are driving outside the city. “As a major proponent of sustainability and green business, U-Haul wants to be able to help Minneapolis lower its carbon footprint while providing time-saving solutions,” stated Bohlman.

In 2016, Minnesota’s U-Haul traffic ranked #3 in the nation based on annual migration trends reports when comparing arrivals versus departures for one-way U-Haul truck traffic. In 2017, St. Paul and Minneapolis remained the two largest markets in the state for arrivals and departures of one-way U-Haul customers by a substantial margin.

U-Haul is a sharing-centered business focused on helping people meet a very basic need, Bohlman pointed out.

Sustainability studies show the presence of every U-Haul truck placed in a community serves as a potential substitute for 19 personally-owned SUVs and pick-ups on the road.

“Fewer vehicles on the road means less traffic congestion, less pollution, less fuel burned and cleaner air. When communities share a vehicle to meet the needs of many, everyone wins—especially proponents of less traffic and a better environment,” said Bohlman.

LCC opposes auto-centered business
During a community meeting hosted by the Longfellow Community Council last summer, residents showed concern for increased traffic, the addition of a surface parking lot, an auto-orientated use, building height and design, according to a letter written by LCC Board President Melissa Erjavec to the planning commission.

She pointed out that the U-Haul proposal is in opposition to several plans calling for a reduction of auto-oriented businesses in the area. The 46th and Hiawatha TOD (2009) Strategy and the 46th and Hiawatha Area Station Master Plan (2001) envisioned residential and office space at this site.

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