Dinkytown hopes for commercial boost with new apartments

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After summer construction on new luxury apartment complexes in Dinkytown kept foot and car traffic at bay, about a thousand potential customers made the area their home last week.

The opening of the Venue and the Marshall, which reported that they have about 1,000 beds filled and can house almost 350 more people combined, has business owners and others in the University of Minnesota neighborhood anticipating changes due to the recent influx of residents.

While some area business owners say the added people will make up for lost profits, others are less concerned about Dinkytown’s sudden added population.

Tony’s Diner owner Tony Nicklow said he thinks his business will benefit from the increased customer base, adding that his location draws customers mostly from foot traffic.

“More people in Dinkytown is good for the business,” he said. “You want to have foot traffic; you want to have people in this area.”

But Burrito Loco owner Greg Pillsbury said while he’s happy to see more people milling the area, he doesn’t believe they’ll have a large impact on his business.

“If you’re standing in front of my place and your apartment is 30 feet away and you can get a burrito or you can go make Ramen,” he said, “it just depends on your budget.”

The Venue’s leases run anywhere from about $525 to $1,100 per month, according to its website. The Marshall has similar pricing.

With both complexes located above fledgling businesses — the Venue is above Goodwill’s Gina + Will store, and the Marshall sits on top of TargetExpress — the apartments are some of the closest to Dinkytown’s core.

But the new residents could bring changes beyond extra business for Dinkytown stores. Book House owner Kristen Eide-Tollefson said she’s worried about a potential increase in crime with the added population, a problem she said businesses will try to prevent.

But despite those concerns, she said she’s looking forward to the boost in business.

The Marshall’s close proximity to campus contributes to the apartment’s appeal, said Susan Jennings, vice president of corporate communications for the apartment’s developer, Education Realty.

In turn, residents will likely engage with area businesses, she said.

“We have a Target in the bottom floor,” Jennings said. “But then you have that great night life right there in Dinkytown and yet you’re still close to campus.”

General Manager at the Library Bar and Grill Joe Berg said the establishment didn’t suffer from area construction because the bar has its own parking lot, a luxury few other Dinkytown businesses share.

The Bridges, a large complex located on University Avenue along Interstate 35W, also welcomed its first residents this year, along with the Rail, a Marcy-Holmes apartment. The Rail rents apartments starting between $450 and $675.

Like the Marshall, assistant leasing manager for the Venue Samantha Teller said the location was one of the main selling points for filling the apartment.

“Location is everything for students right now, especially being right in the heart of Dinkytown,” she said.