Neighbors appeal proposed liquor store at Marshall and Broadway

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May 8, 2014
By: Ben Johnson
The potential site of a new liquor store in Northeast Minneapolis
Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
Former Ward 3 City Council Member Diane Hofstede filed appeal, which will be heard May 15

A group of neighbors led by former Ward 3 City Council Member Diane Hofstede have appealed the Planning Commission’s decision to approve plans for a new liquor store at the corner of Marshall Street and Broadway Street.

About two dozen protesters wearing white t-shirts shirts that read “No More Liquor Stores in NE MPLS” attended the April 23 Planning Commission meeting to testify against the proposal, which passed unanimously.

Opponents of the liquor store say that it doesn’t fit into guidelines set by the Above the Falls Master Plan or Minneapolis’ Comprehensive Plan that call for a denser, mixed-use development at the intersection. Planning Commissioner Ryan Kronzer said that a mixed-use building would be tough to pull off at the busy intersection.

“This is a small site, it’s a third of an acre and just thinking about how a mixed-use project would be parked on this site, it’s very difficult,” he said.

Opponents also say that there’s already an overabundance of liquor in Northeast – one neighborhood resident counted 75 places where alcohol is available within a six minute drive of the site – and that the new store could affect future plans to extend bike lanes further north on Marshall. Kronzen disagreed on that point as well.

“Just looking up and down the street, it’s very infeasible to widen this right-of-way: Grain Belt Brewery, the Grain Belt office building, Dusty’s, Kieran’s new project, Boone trucking, the Packing Corporation, and going south, Northeast Yacht Club and Elsie’s, they’re all built on the property line. That’s tens of millions of dollars of right of way to widen the street,” he said.

The St. Anthony West Neighborhood Organization (STAWNO) voted against the proposal in February after heated debate at several public meetings. Now STAWNO is working on a small-area plan that would guide future development at the high-profile, blighted property. Modern Roadways, an asphalt resurfacing company, currently uses the site to park large trucks and store gravel.

A rendering of the new liquor store

Hofstede filed the appeal, which will be heard at the May 15 City Council Zoning and Planning Committee. When Hofstede represented the Third Ward on City Council she helped shut down another controversial proposal to build a liquor store at the corner of Broadway and Washington Avenue in 2011.

Liquor store opponents are lobbying new Ward 3 City Council Member Jacob Frey to demand Zoning and Planning Committee members to uphold the appeal. Frey does not serve on the committee, but he successfully persuaded committee members to uphold an appeal of a McDonald’s drive-thru upgrade earlier this year.

“One of [Frey’s] campaign promises is that he said that he had the reverence and respect of his colleagues on the council. If he’s got it, he ought to be able to go to his colleagues, say ‘I’m not for this, and therefore I ask you to vote against it.’ That, to me, is what he ran on, and that is what I hope he’ll do,” said Hofstede’s husband Tony after the Planning Commission hearing.

Frey said that while he stands by STAWNO’s decision to not support the liquor store, he feels there is little legal recourse to block it.

“We can stop [the new liquor store] if the owner’s finances are shady, which they are not, or if the owner has had problems with the city in the past, which he has not,” said Frey.

Steve Krause, owner Minnehaha Liquors in south Minneapolis, is behind the proposal, along with his son Jason, who would operate the store.

“My hope is that we will win the neighborhood over. We’ve been sincere and engaging since the outset of this process, and have always expressed a willingness to work with and embrace the community, and we will continue that regardless of who shows up to protest,” said Jason Krause after the Planning Commission hearing.

Ben Johnson // 612-436-5088 // bjohnson@journalmpls.com // @johnsonbend