A hotly-contested plan to build a liquor store at the corner of Broadway Street and Marshall Street has been dropped after City Council placed traffic and landscaping conditions on the site that frustrated the project’s developers.
The Krause family, who own and operate Minnehaha Liquors in south Minneapolis, had proposed to knock down the Modern Roadways building at 80 Broadway St. NE and build a new 7,500-square-foot store. The high-traffic, high-profile site is currently used to store gravel and large trucks, and the land is generally viewed as the best piece of developable real estate in the neighborhood.
Steve Krause and his son Jason began meeting with the neighborhood in February, and after two public forums the St. Anthony West Neighborhood Organization (STAWNO) voted to not support the proposal.
According to several sources, at the forums residents were pretty evenly split between supporters and opponents, with younger residents generally being for the store and older ones against it.
The Krauses decided to forge ahead with their plan without official neighborhood backing and received unanimous approval from the Planning Commission on April 23, despite more than a dozen opponents testifying against it at the hearing.
Opponents testified that the new liquor store was a bad fit for a number of reasons: It didn’t fit into the Above the Falls Master Plan or Minneapolis’ Comprehensive Plan; it could prevent bike lanes from being extended on Marshall someday; it would exacerbate traffic issues at an already bad intersection; Northeast already has an overabundance of liquor and doesn’t need any more liquor stores; and it would cause livability issues due to its proximity to the Mississippi River and as a “gateway” to Northeast.
The Krauses remained optimistic despite the deluge of negative public feedback.
“We’ve actually had a considerable amount of good interaction with the neighborhood and my hope is that we will win everyone over. We think it’s consistent with the zoning code and so did city staff,” said Jason Krause after the Planning Commission’s approval.
The Modern Roadways site -- photo by Ben Johnson
The opposition, led by former Ward 3 City Council Member Diane Hofstede, grew stronger and more organized as the proposal inched toward city approval. They wore white t-shirts that read “No More Liquor Stores in NE MPLS” at the Planning Commission meeting, started a website that they say garnered more than 700 signatures on a petition against the liquor store and lobbied City Council members with many phone calls and emails.
“There was lots of public input, lots of comments and a motivated opposition out there,” said Ward 1 City Council Member Kevin Reich, who authored the conditions that eventually sunk the proposal.
Hofstede filed an appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision, but that was denied by City Council’s Zoning and Planning Committee on May 15. Although the appeal failed, the committee added landscaping requirements to the site plan that forced the Krauses to tweak their architectural plans.
On May 23 the liquor store was set for final city approval, but it was sent back to the Zoning and Planning Committee because of traffic concerns. The Krauses had worked out a deal with the city’s Public Works department that allowed cars to access the store on Marshall, but not Broadway, but City Council became skeptical of that deal.
“I talked to Council Member Frey (whose Third Ward includes the site) about the things I had been hearing and I said ‘Let’s talk to our traffic flow people,’” said Reich. The site sits blocks away from Reich’s First Ward, and Reich sits on the Zoning and Planning Committee; Frey does not.
On June 5 the Zoning and Planning Committee added a condition that barred vehicles from entering the parking lot from both Marshall and Broadway, instead forcing cars to enter solely from 11th Street.
Now saddled with nine conditions, the Krauses’s liquor store proposal was approved by the full City Council on June 13.
“The compromise was that we would have access from Marshall, but then that was taken from us at the last hour, which required us to go back to the drawing board and reinvest our time, money and effort coming up with a completely new plan,” said Jason Krause, who said his family invested “tens of thousands of dollars” in soft costs for the project.
“It’s unfortunate that it was made difficult for us, a small, family business, to become a productive, positive member of the community,” he added.
STAWNO is now working on a small-area plan that will guide future development in the area. It’s hosting a meeting on July 10, 5:30 p.m. at the Main Street Lodge to specifically discuss what the neighborhood would like to see done with the site.
“I think the community is really pleased that [City Council] listened to our feedback and concerns, and we appreciate that,” said Hofstede. “We understand that the property is for sale and we want to find a compatible use.”