Seward Redesign, the neighborhood’s community development corporation, signed an agreement April 21 to buy the former Riverside Market site at Franklin and Riverside avenues.
According to executive director Brian Miller, Lyndale West Partners is Redesign’s partner in the purchase agreement. Miller did not disclose the deal’s dollar amount but called it “expensive.” The agreement includes environmental, financial and neighborhood process contingencies that make the closing for the purchase months away, he said.
The site has been the subject of three recent community meetings where residents said they wanted to see it redeveloped with local priorities in mind, and Miller said Redesign’s community-elected board of directors “felt it was important for us to get involved.” Redesign’s involvement means a newly-formed Seward Neighborhood Group task force will have more than the informal advisory role in the site’s redevelopment, Miller said.
“I’m glad that the neighborhood’s going to have a say in what happens there,” said David Mann, a block club leader who lives across the street, when told of the deal.
Neighbors wanted pedestrian-friendly shops and services as has sprung up at Seward’s other end of Franklin Avenue, Miller said. One possibility is to try to accommodate Seward Co-op’s expansion plans on the ground floor of a new mixed-use building, he said, with co-op or condo housing on floors above.
The 40,000-square-foot site is a full block wide, including the East End Auto at the corner of Franklin and 28th avenues. Lisa Kugler, principal at Lyndale West Partners, said her firm built a mixed-use project called “The Boulevard” at a smaller site, 5320 Lyndale Ave. S., in 2004.
Riverside Market closed last year after a long dispute with the property’s owners over the condition of the building. The grocery store will reopen this year in a new, mixed-use building on University Avenue in St. Paul, just across the city line from Prospect Park. Redesign had explored redevelopment options with market owner Joel Ahlstrom, and had offered $800,000 for the property several years ago, Miller said. But the Burnstein family, which owns the site, turned down that offer as well as a more recent one at twice that amount.
The Riverside Market Site Task Force will meet May 4, 7 p.m., at Seward Towers East. Call SNG at 612-338-6205 for more information.