First TargetExpress opens doors in Dinkytown

In the University of Minnesota area’s dinkiest neighborhood, Target is set to debut its smallest store in company history.On Wednesday, the Minneapolis-based retail company will open the doors to its first TargetExpress — a scaled-down, 20,000-square-foot space at the base of The Marshall apartments on 14th Avenue Southeast and Fifth Street Southeast.“This is our backyard; it’s very close to headquarters,” said Karl Anderson, the Dinkytown store’s team leader.In a space that’s a fraction of an average Target’s size, TargetExpress will carry roughly one-fifth of what its normal stores do, including school supplies, groceries, household items, home décor and a small electronics section. It will also sell cosmetics and health and pharmacy items, Anderson said, as well as some University apparel.Prices will be similar to local Target stores, Anderson said, but comparatively priced to competitors in the campus area.He said TargetExpress, in part, aims to relieve University students from a scarcity of grocery near campus by offering fresh produce, meat, deli, bakery and frozen and dry food items.“The biggest thing we learned … is that students were telling us there’s nowhere to get fresh produce,” Anderson said. “Dinkytown is sort of a desert for that.”Cayce Gearrin, leasing and marketing manager for The Marshall, said an in-house grocery store has been a selling point for filling the apartment complex.“[It’s] a bonus for residents,” she said. “That’s been one of the things that we hit when we tell people about our apartments. Continue Reading

Dinkytown and Stadium Village boards evolve, neighborhood interests remain

When Dinkytown trees get adorned with brand-new strings of twinkling lights, it’s because appointed representatives for the area made a request to improve the neighborhood’s aesthetic appeal and visibility.When garbage cans are overflowing in Stadium Village or the area’s sidewalks need shoveling, the area’s board makes those requests for extra services, too.Across Minneapolis, 13 commercial nodes actively serve as special service districts, including Uptown and Nicollet Avenue, though only two exist near the University of Minnesota. And as the campus area housing boom plays out and neighborhoods’ needs change, developers are becoming more active in local issues.The City Council approved seven new board members to Dinkytown and Stadium Village’s special service boards at the end of last month, four of whom have housing or development interests.Since 1993 and 1997, respectively, Stadium Village’s and Dinkytown’s special service districts have allowed an appointed group of property owners to petition the city for additional services, like snow removal, improvements to sidewalks or additional banners.“We let the business communities come to us,” said Mike Kennedy, of the city’s public works department. “The city doesn’t do this.”In the past, an overwhelming amount of small business owners served on the advisory boards’ nine seats, and some of those members say neighborhoods won’t feel dramatic effects from the boards’ change of representation.While most commercial areas have a business association, like Stadium Village and Dinkytown do, local squabbles and struggles to reach consensus can slow down attempts at progress, Kennedy said. But special service districts function more smoothly, he said, since they’re guided by city oversight and focused by appointed seat-holders.“[Neighborhoods] probably couldn’t get a lot of the services done themselves using a local business board because of consistency,” Kennedy said.Now, the growing presence of larger businesses and developers on Dinkytown’s board could benefit the area, said Laurel Bauer, former owner of the House of Hanson grocery store and service district board member from 2010 until this year.“It made it more cost-effective for the smaller businesses to include the larger businesses,” she said, which can better help alleviate the financial burden of special services on small, locally owned establishments.Bauer left her seat open when her business closed last summer to make way for The Venue, a student housing complex set to open this fall. She said it is very likely that a developer will take her place in representing the area.As traffic in Stadium Village spikes from the summer opening of the Green Line light rail and the upcoming fall debuts of housing projects, the demand for special services will continue, said Duane Rohrbaugh, manager of the Commons Hotel and one of Stadium Villages’ most recently appointed board members.“There’s going to be more students, more pedestrian traffic and the trash cans will fill faster,” Rohrbaugh said, “so they’ll need more servicing.”Members of the advisory boards meet informally a handful of times each year, members say, to prioritize which services the area needs. Continue Reading

Doran’s University-area apartments all up for sale, but Dinkytown presence lingers

Around the same time Doran Companies put five apartment complexes up for sale, the development firm snagged two Dinkytown sites, adding to its hefty portfolio of University of Minnesota-area properties.Doran Companies, which is now selling all its luxury housing complexes near the University, recently made a $1.76 million deal on property that has faced up-and-down development drama for nearly a year.The company now owns the commercial building that contains Publika Tea and Coffee Union and a single-family house adjacent to Burrito Loco Bar & Grill after a May 30 deal. And purchasing the sites — which were part of the plot for the recently-axed plan for a six-story, $25 million hotel — comes at around the same time the company decided to put about 1,100 bedrooms on the market.“Sometimes it’s appropriate to sell and sometimes it’s appropriate to buy,” Doran Companies CEO Kelly Doran said.‘Piece of the puzzle’Doran said his development company is abandoning the hotel project, while “exploring” options for the recently purchased property.Doran Companies will serve as the commercial building’s property owner and won’t make any immediate changes to the property, Doran said, while demolishing the house located at 410 13th Ave. SE to make way for new public parking.Dinkytown Business Association President and Burrito Loco owner Greg Pillsbury said he’s critical of Doran’s plan with the house’s plot because the property’s size wouldn’t allow for more than six parking spots. Instead, he said, Doran might be moving forward with his original plan to make a two-lane driveway, which originally intended to lead to the hotel.Doran’s new purchase is part of his original plan for the 125- to 140-room hotel.“The third piece of the puzzle was the Camdi-Mesa-tattoo parlour building,” Pillsbury said. “He needs a continuous piece to build.”Doran’s purchasing contract for the Mesa Pizza site expired this spring, and Dinkytown Wine and Spirits owner Irv Hershkovitz said that area is under a new contract with a different developer. Continue Reading