Demolition is expected to begin this week of the Eastgate Shopping Center at the corner of Central & University avenues in the East Bank neighborhood. From the rubble of Rick's Market, empty retail and an adjacent four-story building, the glassy, 10-story Cobalt condominiums, a Lunds grocery and two pharmacies will rise.
Developer Exeter Holdings, Lund Food Holdings and neighborhood representatives celebrated with a groundbreaking party Sept. 21. Exeter CFO Rob Stolpestad said the Lunds grocery and nearly half of the housing units should be completed by next fall, with the rest done by early 2007.
In the meantime, current tenants Snyder Drug Store and Cost Cutters have moved around the corner: Cost Cutters is open at 328 E. Hennepin Ave., and Snyder is expected to reopen by the end of September at 12 SE 4th St.
Lunds will offer shuttle service to its Uptown store (see sidebar) in the absence of Rick's Market, now closed.
When Snyder returns, it will share the shiny new digs with a Prairie Stone Pharmacy, a frequent Lunds partner that will be inside the grocery.
Snyder Drug Vice President Dave Leonard said Snyder gave up exclusive pharmacy rights in its new lease -- five years with the option to renew to 20 years -- but he feels Snyder can compete with Prairie Stone.
Victor Grambsch, president of the Nicollet Island/East Bank Neighborhood Association (NIEBNA) said he's "happy the show's getting on the road." While he's "a little puzzled" about the dueling pharmacies, Grambsch noted that Snyder Drug sells other items and performs services -- such as lottery tickets and check cashing -- that Prairie Stone does not.
"Snyder has a lot of clients in the area," Grambsch said. "Competition is fine; it keeps prices down. We're certainly no worse off with two [pharmacies] than we were with one."
The 25,000 square-foot Lunds will occupy more than half the commercial space. Stolpestad said two or three small retail spots remain open.
Above the commercial space and belowground parking, 106 condominiums units will rise. The majority are 800-2,200 square feet and cost from $240,000 to $700,000. Top-floor, 4,000-5,000-sqaure-foot penthouses cost over $1 million. More than half the units have been sold, and most of the "40-some" remaining are smaller, less-expensive units, which Stolpestad said "continues to surprise" him.
The Cobalt sales office has moved across the street to the United Labor Center, 312 Central Ave. SE, Ste. 334.
Stolpestad said that, although McGough Construction will "do the best they can" to minimize the impact of construction, there will be some dust and noise from the project. Exeter will periodically update NIEBNA on the project, he said.