Fate of East Harriet SuperAmerica site remains uncertain

Evenings at Ann Lynch’s home near 40th and Lyndale have been quieter during the past few weeks.

The East Harriet SuperAmerica (SA) on the Southwest corner of that intersection – next door to her house – closed April 14 after years of simultaneous operation with a Kingfield SA on the southeast corner.

Lynch said she doesn’t miss the truck noise, gas fumes, light, and crime she and her family dealt with when the East Harriet store was open, but she’s looking beyond that now.

“Of course, it looks ugly,” Lynch said. “It’s not how we want it to stay.”

A 40th and Lyndale task force made up of Kingfield and East Harriet residents has been working on a vision for the intersection’s future. Their work has included meeting with SA to discuss neighborhood concerns and needs and the company’s plans for the closed station.

The task force will meet with SA and city councilmembers later this month to discuss zoning requirements, neighborhood and city responsibilities, and SA’s plans.

Previous SA plans have included closing the Kingfield station and expanding the now-defunct East Harriet facility. The company bought and demolished a nearby house for the project years ago, but neighbors didn’t let it happen.

SA’s most recent idea for the closed store is to convert it to a training facility for area employees, said SA District Manager Chris Renz. Human resources staff are reviewing the option and should have a decision made by June, he said.

Renz declined to comment on the possibility of expanding the East Harriet building.

“SA is committed to doing the responsible and correct thing for that neighborhood,” he said.

Neighbors have mixed opinions about what they would like to see happen to the facility. At a recent East Harriet Farmstead Neighborhood Association (EHFNA) meeting, residents weighed the convenience of a corner store for food and gas against drawbacks including noise and crime.

Bruce Thompson, a Kingfield resident and owner of Triangle Printing at 710 W. 40th St., said in a private interview that he regularly goes to the southeast station for milk, and his employees used to frequent the southwest building.

“I think living in an urban environment it’s nice to have a store nearby,” Thompson said.

He said he would like more information about the training facility proposal. It would be better than having a closed and vacant building, which detracts from the neighborhood’s image, he said.

As a task force and EHFNA member, Thompson said he is interested in what the community wants for the intersection.

Task force point person and Kingfield resident Mark Hinds said the group has built a strong relationship with SA during the past year and the company has been more open to neighborhood input – an improvement over previous years.

But some residents wouldn’t mind if SA moved from the intersection completely. When SA razed the house near its southwest store a few years ago, Lynch lost a buffer between the station and her home. She won’t step a foot in either of the stores.

“I would like to see something new and fresh grow up there,” she said. “I think it would be best if (SA) sold the property and moved to an area more suitable for their business.”

Julia Paulsen, EHFNA president, said a neighborhood meeting would be scheduled early this summer to discuss the broader community’s visions for the intersection.

Jake Weyer can be reached at [email protected] or 436-4367.