The buzz

LAKE & HENNEPIN

National clothing retailer Express planned to close its Calhoun Square store Jan. 26 to make way for the mall’s long overdue redevelopment scheduled to begin this spring.

The store is among numerous Calhoun Square businesses that have to vacate the center because of construction. Travel goods store Urban Traveler, gift shop ZRS Fossils, clothing retailer Agan Trader and others have been given notice to be out by spring. Some of the "anchor" tenants such as kitchenware carrier Kitchen Window and restaurant Figlio will be staying in the mall.

Express might want to return to the area eventually, said Alexandra Carmican, floor manager at the Calhoun Square store.  The retailer plans to keep an eye on the center’s redevelopment and sales at Victoria’s Secret, scheduled to open soon across Hennepin Avenue from the mall in the former GAP space, she said.

Employees at the Uptown Express were allowed to transfer to other stores, Carmican said. Merchandise was also distributed to other Express locations.

Plans for the redevelopment of Calhoun Square, which include revamped retail space and a 108-unit residential component, were expected to go before the city’s Planning Commission in early February. The City Council must also approve the plans.

44TH & NICOLLET

A new restaurant and pub named Driftwood Char Bar opened at 4415 Nicollet Ave. S. in January.

The restaurant serves "classic American" lunch and dinner daily, as well as brunch on Saturday and Sunday, according to a press release about the business. Dishes include soups, steaks, salmon, hamburgers and sandwiches. Offerings will change regularly based on the seasonality and availability of ingredients.   

Driftwood will celebrate its opening throughout February with beverage and food "special features." Live music and karaoke will also be part of the opening festivities.

The restaurant features "rustic" décor and will offer outdoor seating when the weather is appropriate.

Driftwood replaced longtime neighborhood staple Westrum’s Tavern, which shut down last year after numerous neighborhood complaints about livability issues and the city’s discovery of several licensing violations.    

For more information, call 354-3402.

LAKE & IRVING

Salon Sa Bel Inc. plans to move its Richfield business into the long-vacant 1609 W. Lake St. space by February.

The salon has offered hair, nail and massage services in Richfield for 20 years. That site will close when the move is complete. Salon Sa Bel has no other locations.  

The Lake Street space was previously the location of 1609 Salon and Spa, which closed after filing for bankruptcy in August of 2006. The space has been empty since.

Salon Sa Bel will keep its Richfield phone number, 612-866-3679. A website is in the works. 

— Jake Weyer

The Buzz

28TH & HENNEPIN

Plans to incorporate the Walker Library and the Isles Allina Medical Clinic into an expanded YWCA community center near 28th Street and Hennepin Avenue are dead for now.

The idea, which the YWCA has discussed for about a year, proved to be too complicated to allow the center to continue providing services during construction. It would have had to shut down for a couple years, forcing its members to go elsewhere.

“While there was deep political support for this and neighborhood support, we determined it was too much of an operational challenge,” said real estate consultant Caren Dewar, who worked with the YWCA to evaluate development possibilities.

Karen Sterk, director of health and fitness at the Uptown YWCA, said the internal renovation would include an improved heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

“We’re also looking at how we can go greener and incorporate more natural light,” she said.

The YWCA was in the process of developing more specific plans, she said.

Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman, who represents the area, said she doesn’t want the YWCA to eliminate the possibility of a merger with Allina and the Walker. What to do with the structurally problematic Walker has been a discussion topic for years and the county recently set aside $15 million for the library.

Dorfman said she would like to see that money go toward a new library, preferably one that was part of a community center such as the one proposed by the YWCA.

“We need to begin discussions to figure out what we’re going to do with the Walker,” she said. “Do we sink money into a building that structurally has some flaws, or do we work with the neighborhoods to figure out a new 21st-century library?”

The money for the Walker is to be distributed during a two-year period: half in 2010 and half in 2011.

“That gives us a nice window now to brainstorm,” said Hennepin County Library Director Amy Ryan.

Ryan said the Walker site is used enough to warrant a new building, but a plan for a new library wouldn’t happen overnight. Incorporating the library into a larger community center is an idea that shouldn’t be abandoned, she said.

“A mixed-use facility is an idea that has merit, and we should look into it,” Ryan said.

The Walker’s subterranean design was unique and innovative when it opened in 1981, but Dorfman said it is not very user-friendly and has developed some costly structural problems, including a cracked roof.

Dorfman said she wants to get the discussion about the library’s future and potential merger with the YWCA and Allina moving this year, regardless of whether the YWCA moves forward with its own renovation.

“We put that money on the table to prompt some serious discussion,” she said.

50TH & XERXES

Yoga studio i Yoga at the corner of 50th Street and Xerxes Avenue closed in November after a couple years of business.

Studio founder Ann Fink, who is a yoga instructor as well as a fashion designer, couldn’t be reached for comment about the closure, but said on the i Yoga website that she would continue to teach in other locations.

“I have been fortunate to be surrounded by an excellent pool of skilled and passionate teachers, as well as a constant flow of men and women coming in my door to practice their yoga with me,” she said.

To stay informed on where Fink is teaching, check out www.iyogampls.com.

24TH & HENNEPIN

Handmade paper retailer PaperGami will close the doors of its 2404 Hennepin Ave. S. store Jan. 27.

Store owner Sally Engelhardt is leaving the business for graduate school, according to a recent PaperGami newsletter.

“It’s been fun and we will miss all of our darling customers,” the newsletter said.

A progressive sale started at the store earlier this month at 30 percent off and will reach 50 percent off during the final week.

PaperGami also runs two stores in Albuquerque, N.M., and another in Santa Fe, N.M.

The Hennepin Avenue storefront is now for lease.

Before the end of the month, PaperGami in Uptown can be reached at 377-4428. For more information, visit www.papergami.com.

— Jake Weyer