City planners are weighing two competing proposals to develop a triangular, city-owned vacant lot at 1401 Central Ave. NE.
The decision pits a modest building pitched by a developer with a number of successful projects in the neighborhood against a larger, more ambitious plan submitted by a less experienced team.
In response to a Request for Proposals (RFP) issued in December Hillcrest Development proposed a one-story, 8,500-square-foot building that would house a Dogwood Coffee roastery/cupping lab, a Rustica Bakery test kitchen, and a coffee shop featuring products from both companies.
F Stop Productions proposed a three-story, 30,000-square-foot building catering to companies connected to the film industry.
“It’s a win-win set of proposals,” said Ward 1 City Council Member Kevin Reich. “Hillcrest knows what works in Northeast and I’m very confident in them, while [F Stop’s proposal] may be best for those who want density, particularly around our transit corridors.”
Filmmaking duo Bill Carlson and Denise Gardner are behind F Stop Productions. Gardner said their proposal is modeled after the 1828 Jefferson building, a 10,000-square-foot space they operate about six blocks from 1401 Central. It’s home to a number of small creative companies and offers rental space for professional photo and video shoots.
“We would attract different people in the arts industry, like a casting agency, advertising agency, and a number different people connected to the film business,” said Gardner, a film producer. She envisions partnering with major movie studios to finance mid-size Hollywood movies (budgets ranging from $15 to $45 million) made with labor from companies in the 1401 Central and 1828 Jefferson buildings.
Carlson is a cinematographer who has worked on many documentaries and independent films.
F Stop’s building would also include a sculpture garden facing Central Avenue and a coffee or catering company on the ground floor.
Hillcrest's proposal -- submitted rendering
Hillcrest’s proposal would relocate Dogwood’s roastery from the Frost Building just down the street and give the growing company a high-profile flagship location.
“We’ve been at that corner for three-plus years and to be able to continue to grow in the neighborhood would be very exciting for us,” said Dogwood co-founder Dan Anderson. “Hillcrest did what they’re fantastic at, which is finding the right fit of aesthetics and community interests, and getting the economics to work for everybody.”
Hillcrest’s proposal also contains an art park facing Central and it may have room for one more tenant.
If Hillcrest is chosen, the new Dogwood Coffee shop would be the third coffee shop in a three-block stretch of Central. Spyhouse Coffee is a few blocks to the south in The Broadway building and Diamonds Coffee Shoppe lies just north of the railroad bridge bordering 1401 Central.
“I think Dogwood’s building would be more about roasting. It’s almost the equivalent of the production brewer having a tap room, and we know they didn’t knock out the bars,” said Reich.
The anticipated timeline in the city's RFP stated that city staff would have evaluations of proposals ready for City Council review in April. When asked about the timeline, a city spokesperson wrote in an email that “there is no current projection regarding when a staff recommendation will occur,” and that staff is waiting on follow-up information from both parties.
An aerial view of the 1401 Central parcel -- courtesy of the City of Minneapolis