The storefront and office or living space at 404 West Broadway, the Vietnam Hong Kong International building, has been in limbo and a source of speculation in north Minneapolis. Today on a thread in the Old North Minneapolis Facebook group, some answers came forward, and they do not bode well for the building.
Reportedly the property has been acquired by Kemps, and that part can be verified as the Minneapolis property information website lists Kemps as the owner. The speculation that follows, however, is not yet confirmed. But there seems to be only one potential use that Kemps would have for the parcel and that would be a parking lot-slash-eighteen-wheeler-entry-point. Of course, that would also necessitate the demolition of the building, because if we can’t move houses instead of tearing them down, then what chance does a structure of this magnitude stand of being moved?
I’ve made no secret that I’m no fan of surface parking in general, and especially not along our commercial corridors where it’s about the worst possible land use designation. There are times when a compelling case can be made that such use is needed. I cannot conceive of one here. The wonderfully detailed StreetsMN blog has a comparison of what West Broadway along 3rd-4th Streets looked like then and now. Furthermore, the Getting Around Minneapolis site shows an aerial view of how much surface parking we already have long the corridor.
Even that map is deceptive, in that Kemp’s loading dock areas are not shaded in above, although they function as yet more surface parking from a land use perspective.
Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: This is not a case of the community lacking a plan or a vision for West Broadway, and then whining when Kemp’s proposes something of their own. The north Minneapolis community, and the city as a whole, has adopted and supported the West Broadway Alive plan. That plan calls for pedestrian-friendly storefronts and businesses along the corridor. Demolished buildings and surface parking take us farther away from that plan than anything else.
There may yet be a compelling proposal from Kemp’s to make their case. For now, the bar is set quite high. Even the specter of having them move out of the community should not be enough to grant either a demolition permit or a parking lot. Whatever their proposal for the site, it must be a net gain for north Minneapolis and West Broadway.
(Photo at top from the “Old North Minneapolis” Facebook page.)