Biz buzz: CB2 headed to Calhoun Square

CB2 headed to Calhoun Square

It’s official — CB2 is coming to Calhoun Square this fall.

Ken Seifert, general manager of Calhoun Square, confirmed that CB2 recently finalized a lease agreement and is shooting for a Nov. 1 opening.

To make room for the one-level CB2 building, demolition of the vacant shoe store building at the northeast corner of West 31st Street and Hennepin Avenue South began on April 14.

Calhoun Square management is in the process of trying to find tenants for the renovated and vacant commercial spaces along Hennepin on both the first and second levels of the mall. The hope is that agreements with other high-profile tenants can be hammered out before fall, increasing the vibrancy of Calhoun Square in time for the holiday shopping season.

Getting CB2 to sign on the dotted line is a significant step toward that end. CB2 is the hip, urban brand of Crate & Barrel. It sells housewares and furniture at more affordable prices than its parent store.

The Minneapolis location will be the 10th CB2 store in the U.S. and the only one in the Midwest outside of Chicago.

Calhoun Square’s plan for a one-level commercial development sparked controversy while working through the city approval process last fall and winter. Citing the Uptown Small Area Plan — an advisory planning document recommending three- to five-level buildings in the heart of Uptown — the CARAG and ECCO neighborhood groups both criticized the CB2 plan.

In response, Calhoun Square representatives argued that unfavorable market conditions made it impossible to realize the types of high-density, mixed-use developments recommended by the Uptown planning document.

At a Planning Commission hearing regarding Calhoun Square’s CB2 plan last December, Carol Lansing, an attorney representing Calhoun Square, said: “One point we can all agree on is CB2 is just a great opportunity for Minneapolis, Uptown and Calhoun Square. But if these applications are denied this great opportunity will be lost.”  

In a split vote, the Planning Commission ultimately approved the plan, paving the way for CB2 to finalize a lease agreement with Calhoun Square management.


Blue Plate’s Lowry set for summer opening

Pretty soon, Liquor Lyle’s won’t be the only option for those looking for a late night whistle-whetting or bite to eat along the northern stretch of Hennepin Avenue in Uptown.

Blue Plate Restaurant Company (owners of the New Uptown Diner, Edina Grill, Highland Grill and Groveland Tap, among others) is set to open The Lowry at 2112 Hennepin Ave. S. in Lowry Hill this July.

Blue Plate’s latest will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Lowry’s menu will combine tried-and-true Blue Plate favorites (such as turkey burgers, pierogies and sweet potato fries) with items unique to the new restaurant.

Company Vice President Stephanie Shimp said that while The Lowry’s menu is still a work in progress and a head chef has yet to be hired, the restaurant’s unique elements will emphasize seafood, including oysters, barramundi, walleye, buffalo calamari and fish burgers.

And The Lowry is also aiming to become a late night drinking destination. Shimp said the bar will stay open until 2 a.m. and feature Scusi’s keg wine and whiskey cocktails in addition to a robust selection of craft and local taps.

“We’ll have 30 or so taps and stay true to our commitment to craft and local beers,” Shimp said. “It seems like you have to have about 30 to 40 taps to include Surly, Summit, Harriet Brewing, Steel Toe — there’s so much going on in the local beer scene that we’d have 100 taps if we could.”

Renovation work on the old Hollywood Video building that will house The Lowry began in mid-April. Shimp said plans call for downsizing the square-footage from 12,000 to 7,000 feet, with the additional space to be used for a patio and some additional parking spots.

“We have quite a bit to do, but we’re hoping to open by the end of July,” she said.


Amore Victoria plans rooftop patio

In co-owner Jenna Victoria’s ideal scenario, patrons at Amore Victoria will be able to enjoy a meal and a quiet glass of wine on the restaurant’s brand-new rooftop patio late this summer.

Victoria and her husband Alex Victoria’s proposal for an 88-seat rooftop patio was recommended for approval by the City Council’s Regulatory, Energy & Environment Committee on April 18. It goes before the full City Council on April 29, after this edition of the Southwest Journal went to press.

Regarding the proposed patio, Jenna Victoria said “we’re planning for it to be a romantic, quaint ambiance. We’re working with a landscape artist — it’s going to be more of a rooftop garden with lots of large trees, planters, vines and arbors.”

Outdoor patios have recently become the subject of controversy in Uptown, as in February City Council Member Meg Tuthill (10th Ward) authored an ordinance that would limit the capacity of an outdoor area to the number of seats available, require bars to turn their outdoor music off at 10 p.m. and post signage directing patrons to “refrain from creating excessive noise and to respect neighboring residents and property.” The proposed ordinance has yet to come before the full council.

But even if an ordinance of this sort were to be approved, it doesn’t appear Amore Victoria’s proposed patio would flout any of the requirements.

Amore Victoria has agreed to a set of conditions establishing rules for the proposed patio, including: Monday through Thursday maximum hours of 11 a.m.–10:30 p.m.; closing the patio at 11 p.m. on weekends (10:30 p.m. on Sundays); no music, TV, smoking, entertainment or amplification; and screening on the south and west sides of the rooftop dining area.

Jenna Victoria is expecting council to approve the patio. She said construction is scheduled begin on April 25, before the April 29 council meeting, though work will initially be limited to a kitchen expansion taking place concurrently with the patio installation.

She added that she and her husband have talked about possibly installing a small wine bar area on the rooftop, though no plans have yet been finalized.

The restaurant is planning to keep all of its outdoor sidewalk seating even after the patio opens.


U.S. Bank’s Uptown branch relocating

U.S. Bancorp has broken ground on a new Uptown location at 2420 Hennepin Ave. S. in East Isles.

The 77-year-old, 3,256-square-foot building on the property was the home of Minneapolis Floral. Greenhouse and warehouse structures on the site will be demolished to make way for an 18-stall parking lot.

Once demolition and renovation work is complete, U.S. Bank will relocate down the street from its current 2546 Hennepin Ave. location.

Christine Hobrough, U.S. Bancorp senior vice president, said the current branch location proved to be too small to accommodate demand for banking services in Uptown.

“We’ve been in our current location a long time. We’ve been able to successfully grow our branch into a pretty good market share in that part of Minneapolis, yet we reached the point where we had outgrown that location probably about four years ago,” she said.

As part of the relocation and expansion, U.S. Bank will add four new Uptown employees, including a mortgage lender, financial advisor and mortgage banker.

“We’re excited about it. Instead of serving that business community from downtown, we’ll do it right out of that branch,” Hobrough said.

The bank plans to relocate during the weekend of Sept. 16, with the new branch to open Sept. 19. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for Oct. 4.

Reach Aaron Rupar at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @atruparJournals.