Bennett Lumber renews commitment to Uptown

Bennett Lumber Co. has new plans to consolidate and renovate its current 2828 Emerson Ave. S. headquarters.

Bennett is one of Minneapolis' oldest business - 116 years old this year - and one of Uptown's largest employers, with more than 70 workers. While a scorching residential market has pushed out other industrial businesses along the Midtown Greenway, Bennett officials say they're committed to staying in their location - despite rumors to the contrary.

In addition to their Emerson headquarters, Bennett also has office staff in their building at 2828 Colfax Ave. S. Bennett's new Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Dick Paukert, said they plan to sell the Colfax land and consolidate and renovate the Emerson site.

Brighton Development Corp. hopes to buy the land as part of the Urban Village development, though competing developers are interested. (For more on the development, see story below.)

Paukert said it's now between Brighton and one other developer, and he hopes to decide the winner within 30 days.

However, Paukert added that property taxes - up 20 percent in the past three years - have been an issue affecting Bennett's plans, and executives will have to continue working with the city. "It depends on the city. If they tax us out of here, we can't stay," he said.

City Councilmember Dan Niziolek (10th Ward) said he's relieved that Bennett is committed to staying in Uptown. "We've worked hard over the last three years to tell Bennett ' we want you here,'" he said.

Of the tax issue, Niziolek said he's trying to work with different tax rates for light-industrial businesses, hoping Bennett can get some relief. He noted that with less land, Bennett's property tax dollars would be spent more efficiently.

While Bennett works to sell the Urban Village land, they have extended their Uptown hours. As of June 1, the hardware store is now open Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

For more information about the company, visit www.bennettlumber.com.