A corner that once supported two side-by-side comic book stores is slated to hold a four-story building with apartments and retail, pending city approval.
More than 130 new comics arrive at Comic Book College every Wednesday, and regular customers come to check out the new arrivals each week. The owner has landed a new location next to the Dollar Tree at 46th & Nicollet.
The Lander Group development proposal would rise four floors (at a height of 47 feet) with 25 apartments. The building facade would step back twice from Hennepin Avenue on the third and fourth floors.
The project could house up to four retailers and outdoor dining. Twenty-four parking spaces would be located on the basement level.
“The project is scaled to respond to the fast growing market of 1 and 2 person households,” states the project application.
Lander Principal Michael Pink said units would range from 575 square feet at $1,300 per month to 1,800 square feet at rates to be determined.
The project as proposed would require a conditional use permit to increase height from three stories permitted in the Neighborhood Commercial District to four stories. If city officials approve the project, construction would begin this fall and finish in the fall of 2018.
Comic Book College owner Tim Lohn said neighbors were initially surprised they didn’t have a chance to buy the building themselves.
“It scared me, because there is so much history here,” he said.
East Calhoun Cleaners relocated to Twin City Cleaners at 2000 Hennepin Ave. S. Staff at Uptown Family & Cosmetic Dentistry said they are planning a move to Edina, and EmazingLights reportedly closed several months ago.
“I’d close, but then I’d have to find a real job,” Lohn said.
He said the new space at 46th & Nicollet would be larger, with a bigger kids’ area. He devotes a corner of the shop to comics like Archie and Darkwing Duck, with beanbag seating.
“A lot of stores don’t have much of that anymore,” he said.
He said Comic Book College opened in 1974, and is the oldest comic book store in Minnesota.
“The bins are full of back issues from the last 40-50 years,” he said.
Lohn has owned the shop since 2003. He previously worked as a mental health therapist and sold comic books at weekend conventions across the country to subsidize his education. He’s known for his organization — all the comics are scanned in a digital database, color coded by publisher, separated by dividers and in alphabetical order.
“You don’t have to dig for three hours,” he said.
He sold comics in the boom years in the 1990s, when demand driven by speculation drove print runs into the millions.
“I saw a lot of people go out of business,” he said. “It’s not crazy like it used to be, but more realistic I think. … I’m hopeful for the future.”