St. Anthony West Neighborhood Organization against Broadway-Marshall liquor

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Saying that there should be a better “gateway” at Broadway and Marshall streets NE, but that a one-level one-use liquor store isn’t it, the St. Anthony West Neighborhood Organization (STAWNO) board voted Feb. 13 to oppose a proposal for the Modern Roadways site on the southeast corner.

STAWNO hosted a community input meeting with the developers on Saturday morning, Feb. 8. Drawings are posted on www.stawno.org under “Hot Topics.” A conditional use permit and liquor license are being requested from the City of Minneapolis, which will require future public hearings, the website states. The proposal will likely be on the Minneapolis City Planning Commission agenda March 3, 4:30, Room 317 City Hall.

The proposed developers are the Krause family, Jason Krause and his father, Steve. They own Minnehaha Liquors in South Minneapolis, recently renamed Minnehaha Lake Wine & Spirits, according to an owners’ statement provided on Yelp.com.

Their drawings for Broadway and Marshall do not indicate where signage would be, and the working name is Krause Liquor Store. The architect firm is DJR Architecture.

The plans show the building hugging the Broadway-Marshall corner with 15 parking spots at the east, next to the Elements Pizza building. There would be parking access from Broadway as well as behind the building. Opponents asked that there at least be a traffic study required, as already there is difficulty with the parking access at the new Bottineau Library nearby, making it a dangerous intersection.

Third Ward Council Member Jacob Frey told the group Feb. 13 that there are very few available sites, three or four, that qualify in terms of distance from schools, parks, and other liquor stores, “and this is one of those sites.”

One board member said “I would hate to think we’d be the recipient of a liquor store because no there’s nowhere else to put it.”

From the general public, four people spoke Feb. 13, first Bill Wittrock of RSP Architects, housed nearby in the old Grain Belt Brewery. “We’ve seen this neighborhood evolve and grow. The site is extraordinarily visible, a gateway to both Sheridan and St. A West. We think special emphasis should be made on the planning guidelines.” Bottineau, Sheridan, and the City all have recently approved planning documents, and this use does not meet those comprehensive plans, he said. “We want better and higher use than single use liquor store.”

Former council member Diane Hofstede’s husband Tony is on the STAWNO board. He made the motion which included moving the neighborhood toward seeking a “small area plan” of its own. Diane Hofstede echoed, “It’s the gateway to Graco’s international headquarters, and to the river. This is where you should do the extraordinary, not the ordinary.”

In this area, the neighbors’ attention to detail attracts and retains appropriate businesses, she said. She showed photos of the proposed developers’ other location, pointing out that “there are no eyes on the street. This attracts the kinds of development and individuals not complementary to a fully vibrant community.” She cautioned that “conditions can be overturned, they are not a guarantee.”

The first, unsuccessful, motion by Chris Linde was to put off making a decision in order to engage further and see if the group can get the developer to agree to community friendly business practices like not selling small bottles, not being open early in the morning, and other conditions.

One speaker said there’s already an element of liquor at the intersection, the 1029 Bar, and while he’s not completely for the proposal, “it’s not the end of the world.”

Sheila Biernat had written a letter to the board pointing out 70 other places in Northeast where people can get liquor.” She asked, why not use this corner instead for something of a positive influence?

She read a letter from her husband Joe Biernat, whose family used to own a liquor store, pointing out that delivery trucks would not be easily accommodated at the site, and that the owners would not be able to control delivery schedules to “off hours.” There’s 230 years combined experience in the liquor business already in the neighborhood with Surdyk’s, River Liquors and Sentryz, why give up this prime spot to invite anyone else in? He called for, at least, a traffic study.

Various participants relayed what they had heard at the Saturday meeting, including that the proposed developers said they would continue to pursue the site even if the neighborhood voted against them. The vote is advisory, though Frey said it is important and he would be willing to oppose the project, using the neighborhood vote as “a lever.”

Michael Rainville, who voted for the original motion to postpone, and who remembers another proposal for the site that was shot down eight years ago, said he would encourage a unanimous vote on opposition and seeking a small area plan. “I hope we can be civil. We’ve sat here and argued with each other for 10 years.”

He said earlier it’s a one acre site, “you can’t do density there unless you rezone, some people would be opposed to that too. A flower or yogurt shop could go there; who has the half million dollars” to develop it.

Northeast Bank, directly across the street, is “monitoring the situation but taking a neutral position at this time,” spokesperson Sue Sjoselius told the Northeaster.

On the subject of small area plans, Frey said some are taking upwards of 18 months to complete, and that six months would be a very optimistic time frame.