The Linden Hills Neighborhood Council is hosting a community meeting with developers April 8 to discuss design plans
LINDEN HILLS — The former Almsted’s Sunnyside Market site near 44th Street and France Avenue and an adjacent Gas Plus station might be replaced with a CVS Pharmacy.
The national pharmacy chain’s hired development firm, Velmeir Companies, has been in talks with the owners of the Almsted’s and Gas Plus properties and hopes to use both sites for a single development.
The Linden Hills Neighborhood Council (LHiNC) is hosting a community meeting with the developers April 8 to go over design plans. LHiNC plans to compile and submit neighborhood feedback from the meeting to Velmeir. The group wants to eventually host a second public meeting to go over how the community’s input could be incorporated into the project.
“We would prefer that they go through that process with the residents before they file with the city,” LHiNC chairwoman Linea Palmisano said. “They can choose to do so or not.”
So far, developers have been willing to have the conversation and have not yet submitted an application to the city, though city planner Hilary Dvorak said she had been in touch with them. Velmeir Project Manager Kevin McGhee declined to talk about project specifics on the phone, but said he would be at the community meeting.
CVS spokesman Mike DeAngelis said the pharmacy chain has no announcement on a new store in Minneapolis. “We only comment on or confirm new locations if there is a signed agreement for a site,” he said.
Palmisano said LHiNC wants to make sure the meeting process is fair, so everyone feels he or she had a say if and when the project moves forward.
“The neighborhood organization has more power in this case than most people realize,” she said. “It can be productive. You can engage both parties in a thoughtful way. You can set the stage for a productive conversation to occur between all of the stakeholders.”
Word of the possible development has spread quickly in Linden Hills and Palmisano said she expects a large turnout at the April meeting.
Collette Morgan, co-founder of Wild Rumpus near 43rd Street and Upton Avenue and a member of the Linden Hills Business Association, said she’d be there. She said she was concerned that a big chain store like CVS wouldn’t fit the neighborhood, which is home to many locally owned businesses.
“I want to support all the independent businesses we have, and I did support Sunnyside as well,” Morgan said. “But I’m not going to be supporting a national chain.”
Morgan said she was also worried about losing the gas station, which she and others in the neighborhood frequent.
Linden Hills resident Felicity Britton, who lives four blocks away from the Almsted’s site, said she would also like to see an independent business there, but she hasn’t made up her mind yet.
“I would prefer it to be a small, independent, locally owned business, but on the other hand it would be convenient to have milk and bread up the road,” she said.
Rick Anderson, co-owner of France 44 and Café 44 and president of the Morningside Business Association, which represents sections of Edina and Minneapolis, said a CVS would probably be well used.
“I think having a CVS in the area would be a real boon, but I want to make sure it fits in,” he said.
Anderson is also part of a task force that is in the middle of a visioning process for the 44th & France business node as well as the node at 43rd & Upton. LHiNC assembled the task force about a month ago and it is planned to meet for a total of three months. Its members include neighborhood stakeholders, city staff and elected officials.
“It’s really meant to be prescriptive about what kind of development we all can come together and agree on,”
Palmisano said. “There have been rumors flying around the 44th & France corridor for years.”
Palmisano said the CVS development would probably be handled outside the task force.
“CVS has expressed anxiousness to move quickly through the neighborhood process on a timeline that doesn’t seem to fit this task force … and because (the CVS development) will soon blow up as the big polarizing factor, I don’t want the task force to be so overcome with that one challenge that they lose sight of both the business districts.”
Almsted’s Sunnyside Market closed in September after several years of declining business. The building has sat vacant since. Gas Plus is still operating and employees there said it’s a busy station.
Fuel Oil Service Company Inc. owns the station’s property, according to Minneapolis property records. Property owner Robert Olson controls the Almsted’s site. Neither owner could be reached for comment before press time.
For more information about the proposed development and the upcoming meeting, visit www.lindenhills.org.
Palmisano said she is optimistic that the community-engagement process will result in a development that all stakeholders can be happy with.
“Whatever the outcome is, we’re all going to be the better for it,” she said.
What: The Linden Hills Neighborhood Council (LHiNC) is hosting a community meeting with developers interested in replacing the former Almsted’s Sunnyside Market building and a neighboring gas station with a CVS Pharmacy. The development’s design plan will be discussed.
When: Tuesday, April 8, 7-8:30 p.m.
Where: Cafeteria of Southwest High School, 3414 W. 47th St., west building.
More information: lindenhills.org
Reach Jake Weyer at 436-4367 or [email protected]