Laurel Village-City Market dispute in court this week>B
City Market grocers Brad and Brian Hansen are turning to Downtown neighborhood leaders for support in their lawsuit against their landlord Laurel Village -- litigation that threatens to put the 50-year-old market out of business Downtown.
In December, the Hansen brothers sued Laurel Village and its parent companies, Golden Valley-based Great Lakes Management and Connecticut-based St. Paul Cos., an insurance giant, among other defendants. The litigation boils down to a disagreement over the lease renewal process. The Hansens claim they gave proper notice. Laurel Village interprets the lease as expired as of Dec. 31, 2003, and has asked the court to dismiss the complaint.
Meanwhile, City Market remains open, pending the outcome of a Thursday, Feb. 12 hearing in Hennepin County District Court. Judge E. Anne McKinsey is expected to determine whether the Hansens can continue running their business at 1240 Hennepin Ave. S. while litigation proceeds.
The Hansens and their lawyers approached the neighborhood group, Citizens for a Loring Park Community (CLPC), at a Jan. 26 meeting, asking for help in keeping their business open Downtown. Their plea drew sympathy from members of the CLPC Land Use Committee who called the grocery an asset to the neighborhood.
The Hansens also plan to go before the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association this month to brief board members on their case.
The grocers also urged neighborhood leaders to attend this week's court hearing as a sign of support.
John Van Heel, CLPC president, said he depends on City Market for his groceries. He doesn't own a car and walks to work and neighborhood meetings.
"For me, the store is critical," he said.
(Laurel Village management has said it would like to keep a grocery in the complex if City Market departs.)
The CLPC committee, however, carefully worded the motions to avoid picking sides. One resolution called City Market an asset to the neighborhood, which prompted Laurel Village officials to request a resolution calling the apartment complex an asset to the neighborhood as well. CLPC honored the request.
The Land Use Committee approved a third resolution that expressed support for a full-service grocery store Downtown.
James Baumgartner, a Laurel Village property manager, would not comment on the litigation, but he did say the apartment complex was invested in the neighborhood and committed to making improvements on its stretch of Hennepin Avenue, which spans three city blocks from 12th Street to 15th Street.
"We're here for the long haul," he said. "I think you've seen we've been a good neighbor."
The court hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 12 in room 1055 of the Hennepin County Government Center, 300 S. 6th St.
Street cameras go live next month
They're not watching you...yet.
The Target-sponsored "Safe Zone" cameras are expected to be up and running by the end of March, said Minneapolis Police Insp. Robert Allen.
Initial projections were that the cameras would be running in January.
The police have been working with Target Corp. officials for months on the camera project. In November, police met with an English bobbie Paul Valentine, who has experience overseeing 300 closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) in Northampton, England.
Valentine credits CCTV with curbing crime in his city.
The City Council approved a gift from Target in June for 20 to 30 security cameras, which will be positioned along a 10-block area stretching from Washington Avenue to 12th Street, 1st Avenue North, Hennepin Avenue South and Nicollet Mall.
Target technicians are handling most of the logistics at this point.
The cameras have been criticized by civil libertarians for infringing on privacy and lauded by some city officials and police for giving them more eyes to crack down on Downtown nuisance crimes, such as public urination, panhandling and drug dealing.
Minneapolis Police Crime-Prevention Specialist Luther Krueger, who has the Downtown neighborhoods beat, said the cameras will help track crime hotspots. The footage will assist investigators in collecting evidence for prosecutors.
"The purpose, in general, is to allow the precinct to monitor the main commercial district more closely, and where incidents are brewing or have happened, our front desk can alert beat and patrol officers to them," Krueger said.
Warehouse District burglaries, break-ins prompt police alert
Minneapolis Police have issued a crime alert to businesses in Downtown's Warehouse District after a spate of break-ins and attempted burglaries since the New Year.
Police reports indicate that about 30 businesses have been hit by burglars since Dec. 30. Cash, laptops and cameras, among other things, have been stolen.
In many of the burglaries, the suspect or suspects smashed the door to gain entrance to the business. Police are urging business owners to fortify doors and windows to guard against burglaries.
In the alert, police included a brief description of a man who has raised suspicions and is considered a suspect in the burglaries. The individual asked about a job while holding a plastic bag. When asked what was inside the bag, the man refused to answer, a struggle ensued and then he ran away. A crow bar then fell out of the man's bag.
He is described as black, 5 feet 10 inches tall, between 30 and 40 years old.
The suspect wore a dark brown jacket, tan cap, blue jeans and tan shoes at the time of the incident.
North Loop board chosen, NRP plan approved
The North Loop Neighborhood Association has added three newcomers to its 11-member board -- a volunteer organization charged with overseeing development and livability issues in Downtown's Warehouse District.
About 30 people participated in the Jan. 28 election. Newcomers include Peter Brown, an architect who recently moved to Minneapolis from Philadelphia; John Slack, a landscape architect who assisted the group in drafting its Neighborhood Revitalization Program phase-one spending plan; and Linda Kelley, a resident who lives at the Lindsey Lofts, 408 N. 1st St.
The North Loop covers Downtown west of 3rd Avenue North, and the riverfront west of Hennepin Avenue, South to Washington Avenue.
The group also reelected board incumbents Jim Grabek, the board's current chair; Alan Higley, the board's vice chair; and Matt Clark, the board's treasurer.
Grabek, a former Orono mayor and chief executive officer of Comedicus, a Columbia Heights medical device company, co-founded the North Loop Neighborhood Association along with Higley, a freelancer who works in advertising, in 2001.
The North Loop group broke off from the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association, which represents residents and workers in the Downtown core.
Four other people were listed on the ballot but did not make the board: Ry4an Brase, a North Loop resident; Sue Jahn, a board incumbent who has lived in the Warehouse District for 18 years and worked as an interior designer; Terrance Large, who works in the neighborhood; and Darwin Lookingbill, a North Loop worker who said he had aspirations to advocate for a broader range in housing options.
Jahn said she was sad to leave her board spot but would continue attending meetings and working on neighborhood events, such as National Night Out.
Grabek singled out Jahn for her work to better North Loop and also applauded other candidates, saying the strong turnout bodes well for the neighborhood's future. The area has seen a building boom in recent years with new lofts and condo projects going up all the time.
During the annual meeting, Grabek pointed to a long list of neighborhood group accomplishments in 2003, including publishing a newsletter, building positive relationships with Minneapolis Police and other city departments, drafting a spending plan, hosting a property tax forum for residents and organizing the Wing Fling, the neighborhood's annual chicken wing fest.
Homeowners and renters in the North Loop are among the city's most affluent residents. A neighborhood survey released last summer indicated 83 percent of respondents earn incomes of $50,000 or more.
In other neighborhood news, North Loop is expected to secure city backing for its Neighborhood Revitalization Program Phase I spending plan. The $193,000 spending proposal sets aside money for development planning and marketing efforts to raise the neighborhood's profile in the city, among other things.
Earlier this year, the plan faced some opposition from City Councilmembers who criticized it for appearing duplicative of the city's own development blueprints for the area.
Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA)
Next: Board meeting, Tuesday, Feb. 10.
Meetings: Land Use meetings, 1st Tuesday of each month; Board meetings 2nd Tuesday of each month, 6:30 p.m., LaSalle Plaza, 800 LaSalle Ave., Suite #131
Contact: 659-1279, www.thedmna.org
Borders: Mississippi River, Hennepin Ave., Washington Ave., 3rd Ave., 12th St., 5th Ave., 5th St., I-35W.
North Loop Neighborhood Association
1/26/04 annual meeting
ARTIST CONCERNS: The neighborhood group heard from an artist collective known as Studios at 700, a group working at a warehouse on 700 N. Washington Ave. The artists asked for support from neighborhood leaders in their efforts to continue working in the space as construction begins to convert the warehouse to condos. The artists have leases that run until the end of the year but worry that development might interfere with their work. As of Jan. 28, construction had not begun at the site.
ELECTIONS: A group of about 30 people participated in an election for six open board seats. The slate includes: newcomer Peter Brown, a resident who recently moved to the city from Philadelphia; newcomer John Slack, who worked on the neighborhood's Neighborhood Revitalization Program Phase I plan; Matt Clark, a resident at Whitney Square Lofts, 210 2nd St. N.; Alan Higley, the board's current vice chair; Jim Grabek, the board's current chair; and newcomer Linda Kelley, a resident at 408 N. 1st St.
Next: Board meeting, Feb. 25.
Meetings: Last Wednesday of the month, 7 p.m., Heritage Landing, 415 N. 1st St.
Contact: Jim Grabek, 677-1090, www.northloop.org
Borders: Lyndale Ave., Mississippi River, I-94, Hennepin Ave., Washington Ave., 3rd. Ave.
Citizens for a Loring Park Community
1/26/04 Land Use meeting
HOUSING: Scott Bader, a principle with developer Steven Scott Management, Inc., briefed the committee on plans for a 118-unit condo development at 317 Oak Grove. The developer has purchased the 1.3-acre site from Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church. The Land Use Committee approved a motion supporting the project's concept.
CITY MARKET: Brad and Brian Hansen, brothers who co-own the grocery store at 1240 Hennepin Ave., appealed to neighborhood leaders for support in their legal battle against their landlord Laurel Village, which is owned by Golden Valley-based Great Lakes Management. The grocer and Laurel Village are in a dispute over the lease renewal process. The committee approved a few resolutions after listening to the Hansens and brief comments from James Baumgartner, a Laurel Village property manager, who declined to comment on the allegations in the lawsuit. In the first motion, the neighborhood asks Laurel Village to allow City Market to stay in business until the outcome of litigation. A second and third motion call both City Market and Laurel Village assets to the neighborhood.
DRUGSTORE: The neighborhood group also heard about plans for a new CVS pharmacy store at 1201 Hennepin Ave. S. The Cincinnati-based developer, Bear Creek Capital, is behind the project.
316 OAK GROVE: Activist and MCTC student Joshua, who won't give his last name for fear of retaliation, updated the committee on an organizing campaign he has started to improve conditions at the 98-unit apartment building. Tenants claim the building has become blighted, while management maintains the concerns are overblown. Joshua and CLPC staff members are organizing a meeting with a Minneapolis Police SAFE crime-prevention team to talk about tenant concerns.
Next: Nicollet Task Force, Wednesday, Feb. 11.
Meetings: Board meets 2nd Monday (six times a year, for meeting times and locations call the CLPC office). Nicollet Task Force, 2nd Wednesday, Hibaq Coffee Shop. Livability Committee, 3rd Wednesday, 6:30 p.m., Loring Park Shelter; Land Use Committee, 6:30 p.m., 4th Monday, 430 Oak Grove St.
Contact: Jana Metge, 874-9002; www.loringpark.org
Borders: S. 12th St., I-35W, I-94, Lyndale Ave., and I-394.
Elliot Park Neighborhood, Inc.
Next: Board, Monday meeting, Feb. 9.
Meetings: Board 2nd Monday of the month, 7 p.m., 1000 E. 14th St.; Economic Development Strategies, 3rd Wednesday, Building Land Use and Housing, 3rd Thursday; Neighborhood Action Committee, 4th Monday. (EPNI's committee meetings are open to all adults who live, work or own property in the neighborhood. Local Churches may appoint up to 3 people to represent them.)
Borders: I-94, Hwy. 55, 5th Ave.,
S. 5th St.
Nicollet Island/East Bank Neighborhood Association
Next: Annual meeting, time TBA (check the group's Web site, www.niebna.org for an announcement)
Meetings: 3rd Tuesday of the odd-numbered months, 7 p.m., Pracna on Main, 117 SE Main St.
Borders: Nicollet Island, Mississippi River, Central Ave. SE, railroad tracks north of and parallel to 1st Ave.