A proposal for a new Eastgate shopping mall with adjoining condos and a new upscale grocer cleared the City's Planning Commission Nov. 22.
Northeast-based Hillcrest Development has partnered with St. Paul-based Exeter realty on the Central & University redevelopment, which calls for 110-120 condos and, tentatively, a new Lunds grocery store. A formal announcement from the grocer is expected Monday, Nov. 29.
Jim Stolpestad, chief executive officer of Exeter Realty, said construction on the new Eastgate is expected to begin in April. Condo pre-sales are expected to start in January.
If construction proceeds on schedule, the new grocery will open early 2006, Stolpestad said. Completion of the condos is expected later that year.
The Planning Commission approved conditional-use permits for the a 24-hour grocery and a parking ramp. The developer also received a waiver to build above the city's 56-foot height limit for the area.
Under current plans, the Eastgate strip mall and an adjacent four-story office building will be demolished. A new glassy retail and housing complex would go up on the shopping mall's parking lot. A nine-story building would front University Avenue Southeast and six-story building would face Central Avenue Southeast.
The developers are in negotiations with current tenants about relocation plans. Some Eastgate businesses, such as Cost Cutters and Snyder's, have expressed in opening in the new Eastgate shopping center. The popular neighborhood hangout, Mac's Sports Bar and Grill, 301 Central Ave. N., will move across the street into the former Union Grill and Bar space, 312 Central Ave. SE.
Hillcrest Development and Exeter Realty have consulted with neighborhood leaders on early designs of the new shopping complex. A task force with representatives of the Nicollet Island/East Bank Neighborhood Association (NIEBNA), Marcy-Holmes, St. Anthony East, St. Anthony West, the North Loop and the Old St. Anthony Association, endorsed the redevelopment proposal in October.
NIEBNA chair Victor Grambsch, who led the task force, commended the developers for their work, noting that it's no small feat to move a major project through the city-approval process in four months.
"This is very rapid work indeed for a project of this size, importance and potential for controversy -- it could have taken a great deal longer and made much greater demands on everyone's stocks of good humor," he said.