Biz Buzz // Trader Joes eyes 27th & Lyndale grocery store

THE WEDGE — After years of trying to expand into Uptown, Trader Joe’s appears to be on the road toward opening a store at 27th & Lyndale.

Leslie Foreman, policy aide for City Council Member Meg Tuthill (10th Ward), confirmed that Tuthill’s office recently received a preliminary project rendering from Told Development Co. The rendering was also presented to the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association’s (LHENA) Zoning & Planning Committee Dec. 14.

LHENA board member Bill Casey said some Zoning & Planning members expressed concern that the preliminary proposal, featuring a 14,000-square-foot Trader Joe’s store on the corner of 27th & Lyndale and a large surface parking lot to the south of the building, is too suburban for the increasingly dense Lyn-Lake area.

“Some [board members] want to see something more urban, with underground parking,” Casey said, adding that Told’s preliminary design harkens back to a time “when the city was more spread out.”

Constructing a Trader Joe’s on the southwest corner of 27th & Lyndale would necessitate the demolition of structures on the northern half of the 2700 block, including buildings housing the now-closed Sunnyside Café, Planet Soccer, La Société du Thé, Calhoun Vacuum Supply and Art Materials.

Larry Brown, owner of Art Materials, said Told has a purchase agreement in place for his building, which would likely be demolished and converted to a parking lot if the Trader Joe’s project moves forward. But he said he already has a purchase agreement in place for the old Rockler Woodworking building at 3025 Lyndale Ave. S.

Brown said his 55-year-old business “has been a fixture in the neighborhood and we plan to stay in this area.” Barring unforeseen snags, he said he anticipates moving out of 2728 Lyndale sometime next spring to make way for Trader Joe’s.

Brown owns the Art Materials building, but commercial renters on the corner may be getting the short end of the stick.

The city is currently in the process of reviewing whether any of the buildings proposed for demolition should be spared under the city’s historic resource preservation ordinance. According to Uptown blogger and Southwest Journal columnist Thatcher Imboden, the site would have to be rezoned to allow for a liquor store, and city planner Becca Farrar said no site plan has yet been submitted for formal review.

Il Gatto closes in Calhoun Square

Il Gatto at Lake & Hennepin closed Dec. 17 after a two-year run in Calhoun Square.

The Parasole restaurant has struggled financially compared to other Uptown-area restaurants managed by the company.

“Parasole restaurants have been a major presence in Uptown for 27 years. We continue to believe in the viability of the Uptown community,” said Kip Clayton, vice president at Parasole, in a news release. “Parasole is Uptown’s largest restaurant employer and is experiencing strong sales at our other restaurants in the area, including the Uptown Cafeteria, Burger Jones and Chino Latino.”

The company is working to find jobs for Il Gatto employees at other Parasole restaurants.

Il Gatto replaced the long-time restaurant Figlio in Calhoun Square in November 2009.

So far, Calhoun Square has not announced plans for a new tenant in the space.

“At this time we cannot comment on Il Gatto’s closure or a new tenant for that space, but our talented leasing team is always working hard to bring new and exciting tenants to Calhoun Square like AT&T, Timberland and our newest store CB2,” said Kara Simons, marketing manager/specialty leasing manager for Calhoun Square.

Now open: CB2

CARAG — CB2, a modern home furnishings store, has opened in Uptown.

The store had a grand opening party Dec. 9 with appetizers made by Heidi’s chefs, Blackbird Café and Chowgirls Killer Catering and drinks from local breweries.

The Calhoun Square CB2 has a 14,200-square-foot space at the corner of Hennepin & West 31st Street.

Amy Cusick attended the grand opening event. “I think it will be a good addition to the neighborhood,” she said. “Even though it isn’t a local store, they supported the local businesses and their prices are fairly reasonable for the younger Uptown crowd.”

Chicago-based CB2 is a brand from Crate and Barrel that specializes in contemporary furniture and décor designed for urban spaces. There are 11 stores across the country and plans for two new Canadian locations in Toronto and Vancouver in early 2012.

The Uptown store is open Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.–8 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.

Fulton neighborhood supports proposed senior housing project

FULTON — Plans to build a new senior-living complex on a long-vacant property on 50th Street are moving forward.

The Fulton Neighborhood Association voted on Dec. 14 not to oppose two conditional use permits being sought by the developers of the so-called Waters on 50th project. The $21.5 million development will bring a four-story, 90-unit building to the empty parcel between Beard and Chowen avenues.

Jay Jensen, the principal at Waters Senior Living, the development company behind the project, said the company made several changes to their original proposal to reflect the community’s wishes.

The northern side of the building, which faces Wuollet Bakery and single-family homes, will now be reduced from four to three stories. The new plan also calls for more landscaping, more stone in the façade and for the parking lot entrance to be moved from Chowen Avenue to the east side of the complex.

“It’s a better project because of [the neighborhood’s] input,” Jensen said.

Developers hope to take their plans to the Planning Commission and the City Council in January. Assuming their plans get approval from city leaders, construction could begin in the spring. The build out is expected to take roughly a year.

Jensen said that there is a “huge need” for the kind of specialized senior housing that will be offered through the project.

Of the 90 units, 21 will be reserved for those suffering from memory loss; the remainder of the units will be reserved for assisted living and enhanced assisted living residents.

Applications will be taken once all the approvals are in place, and apartments will rent from the low- to mid-$3,000 range to more than $5,000, depending on the level of service provided.

When completed, the complex is expected to have around 35 full-time employees.            

Steve Young, the chair of the Fulton Neighborhood Association, said he is happy to see the project move forward after a previous proposal to build condominiums on the site fell flat amid the housing collapse.

“Having just an empty site in the neighborhood just doesn’t look good,” Young said.

New to Southwest: Sports Resource Group

CARAG — Sports Resource Group is moving into the neighborhood in a big way.

The company, which manufactures backyard ice rinks and a variety of rink-related safety gear and accessories, has production facilities in Spring Lake Park and Fridley. But SRG President and East Isles resident Chris Guertin confirmed that the company will office out of a fixer-upper commercial building recently purchased at 3539 Hennepin Ave. S.

“We’re growing so fast and need more space, and now is the perfect time to buy,” Guertin said. “It cost about the same as we could rent a place for, and we’ll fix it up and operate out of there.”

SRG is also donating a kid-sized hockey rink to the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board for installation on Lake of the Isles.

“So many times, you see 10 to 12 adults skating on the big rink, with kids off on the side just shooting pucks,” Guertin said, adding that he hopes the rink provide kids with an opportunity to hone their ice-hockey chops.

The rink was originally slated for installation Dec. 15, but unseasonably warm weather has pushed it back until after the top of the year.

Vital relocates to 25th & Hennepin

THE WEDGE — After about a decade off 15th & Nicollet, the business formerly known as Vital Vinyl has moved into the old Dusty Pixels space at 2443 Hennepin Ave. S.

“We had an opportunity to get a better space in Uptown and we took it,” said manager Mike Tadros.

Once a Twin Cities Mecca for electronica records, Vital Vinyl stopped stocking new albums about five years ago and diversified its business model. Vital now specializes in flyer, business card and poster printing, renting and repairing DJ gear, fashion from brands like 612 and Kangol and selling event tickets.

For more information about Vital, check out vitalculture.com.

Now open: Wax It!

FULTON — The Wax It! waxing and lash studio is now open at 3801 W. 50th St. near 50th & France.

Owner Allison Borgeson also runs Daddy Sam’s, an all-natural gluten-free barbeque sauce company. She said she wanted to open a waxing salon for years, but the recession and a bout with melanoma delayed her plans.

Now healthy and able to secure a small-business loan, Borgeson is offering first-time Wax It! patrons one free service, with 50 percent off a second visit. Customers can also purchase Brazilian or back waxes for $20.

Asked what motivated her to open a waxing salon, Borgeson said, with a chuckle, that waxing is “very girlie and I’m girlie.”

For more information about Wax It!, check out waxitstudio.com.

Drew Kerr contributed to this report.