Planning Commission approves Trader Joes plans for Lyn-Lake store

LYN-LAKE — The Minneapolis Planning Commission has voted unanimously in favor of a request to rezone the property and to approve a conditional use permit that will allow the California-based retailer to sell alcohol at the 14,000-square-foot store they hope to build at 27th Street and Lyndale Avenue.

The issues still have to be taken up by the City Council, which will consider the proposal in June, but developers took the May 21 approval as a show of support for the project.

If the plans are approved by the City Council this summer, construction could begin as early as this fall, and the store could open by May or June 2013, said Jeff Minea, who owns part of the site where the grocery store would be built and has secured a lease with Trader Joe’s.

The project has not come without controversy, however.

A string of buildings, including two two-story, mixed use buildings, would have to be demolished in order to make way for the grocery store and the adjacent parking lot. Opponents have said Trader Joe’s single-story building large parking lot is inconsistent with the area. The parking lot includes 70 parking spaces, 37 of which would be built underground.

Opponents have also argued that the area is already well served by grocery stores, including The Wedge Co-Op, Lunds, Kowalskis and Rainbow.

“To allow a suburban-style development and parking lot at this site would be a huge disservice to our neighborhood,” said William Neuman, a member of the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association.

LHENA, despite five meetings with developers, voted in March not to support the project. Their opposition was affirmed by the Calhoun Area Residents Action Group.

Developers presented city officials with signatures from around 1,000 residents who support the project, however. The plan has also won support from the Lyn Lake Business Association and developers of nearby multifamily buildings who see the store as another amenity for their tenants.

A handful of residents also spoke in favor of the project during the public hearing that preceded the Planning Commission’s vote on Monday.

Minea, who is working to develop the site with Plymouth-based TOLD Development, acknowledged the project hasn’t won universal support, but said the existing buildings need to be replaced to spark new growth.

“We really didn’t want to lose the character of some of the buildings that are there, but there’s a limit to what we can do with them,” he said.

The buildings due to be demolished are now home to businesses including Art Materials, Planet Soccer, the T-Shirt Shop and Coin Laundry.

Owners of Art Materials, which has been in the neighborhood for 56 years, have agreed to sell their property to make way for the development, and have already secured a new location they consider preferable nearby.

Minea owns the remaining buildings, and said he is working with business owners to relocate their stores.

The City Council’s Zoning and Planning Committee is expected to discuss the project on June 21, meaning the City Council could take it up on June 29. 

A traffic study that could lead to a new traffic light at 27th and Lyndale also needs to be completed.

If approved, this would become the sixth Trader Joe’s in the metro area. Other locations include Woodbury, 

St. Louis Park, St. Paul, Minnetonka 

and Maple Grove.

Minea has declined to say how much the development will ultimately cost. But the underground parking, which was added after the initial proposal, added $1.6 million to the total cost, he said.

Zinnia Folk Arts opens 

at 50th & Bryant 

LYNNHURST — Anne Damon’s store, Zinnia Folk Arts, is more akin to a gallery than a gift shop — and that’s intentional.

Damon, who opened the 826 W. 50th St. store on May 18, relishes in the history behind the Mexican art that she carries, and is quick to deliver an explanation of the artist and significance behind each piece.

A recent visit to the soon-to-be-open space underscored her deft ability to call up details about the items she carries.

Along one wall sat an elaborate, 3-foot-tall clay candle holder, in Mexican tradition a “Tree of Life,” that Damon explained was made in the 1960s by Heron Martinez. In other areas sat protecciones, believed to keep evil out and good in, heart-shaped blocks covered with charms called milagros, and ceramics from a host of different regions.

Damon delivered tidbits of Mexican history and culture as she explained how each colorful piece fit into the country’s heritage, something she hopes her customers will come to appreciate during their visits. 

“I want people to know not just that this stuff is beautiful, but that it’s interesting and important,” Damon said during a recent visit to the store, which will occupy the former Kurimay Interiors space at 50th & Bryant.

 The south Minneapolis resident’s knowledge comes from traveling to Mexico since high school, when she visited as an exchange student studying Spanish. 

After more than 20 years of traveling, she still visits several times a year to scour markets and to stop at artists’ homes, personally selecting the handmade items carried in her store.

Her visits yield pallets worth of work that she has shipped back to Minneapolis.

Damon, who studied galleries while pursuing her master’s in arts administration, said such a collection is unique in Minneapolis, but not uncommon in larger cities around the United States. 

Interest in her finds has come largely from travelers who visit Mexico, but are unable to bring art home with them after their trip, she said.

 “When people go to Mexico, they see these beautiful things but then the question is, ‘How do you bring it home?’” Damon said. “Other people are just attracted to the quirkiness of things.”

 Originally a home-based business, Damon opened her first store, at 46th and Bryant, in 2009. She later moved to Guild, in St. Louis Park, where she was given a small area to display her items.

Her new space reflects not just her desire to get back to her south Minneapolis roots, but to have more room to display her growing collection. The added room only adds to the museum-like aesthetic Damon said she has sought to create.

“I’m really trying to merge into that gallery area rather than coming off as a crowded gift shop,” she said.

Motto opening 

at 31st & Hennepin 

UPTOWN — Uptown has boutiques, and it has home design stores. Now it has a business that combines the two.

Motto, opening in the former Intoto space at 31st and Hennepin on June 1, will carry men’s and women’s clothing, as well as home décor items, antiques and apothecary products.

The store is owned by Maryn Bulygo and Maria Walker, old friends who have long wanted to combine their experience in the clothing and interior design arenas and open a business of their own.

“It was the right time in our lives, and the right time for the neighborhood,” said Bulygo, who left her job as a celebrity stylist in Los Angeles to open Motto.

The pair describes Motto as a “mini luxury lifestyle department store,” and say they’ll be carrying a host of designers not currently found in the Twin Cities. They will also have a private label of pillows that could expand to other items in the future.

“We see this as becoming a place that people just want to get lost in,” said Walker, whose expertise is in interior design.

Walker and Bulygo will also be using a third-floor space for expert consultations, offering personal shopping and design services.

A grand opening open house is planned for Thursday, June 7 at 6 p.m. The store will be open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. 

Butter Bakery moving 

to Nicollet Square 

KINGFIELD — Daniel Swenson-Klatt’s Buttery Bakery will relocate to a larger space at Nicollet Square later this summer. 

Swenson-Klatt, who opened his combined coffee shop-café on Grand Avenue six years ago, said the move was prompted by a need for more space, but also a desire to work with the young adults living in the building.

Residents at Nicollet Square have either been homeless or in foster care, and are working to establish careers. Swenson-Klatt, a former teacher, said he plans to offer an apprentice program to provide residents in the 3700 Nicollet Ave. building with job training. 

The new location will have room for around 50 people inside, and another 16 outside. The current location has room for up to 30 people, and quickly becomes cramped, Swenson-Klatt said. 

“It’s been a great six-year run in our current space, but we’ve outgrown our surroundings,” said Swenson-Klatt, a Kingfield resident. 

While larger, the new space will have a similar look and feel so that visitors who come in “will still think it’s Butter.” And because its just four blocks from the Grand Avenue location, Swenson-Klatt said he expects to see many of the same familiar faces. 

The plan is to keep the Grand Avenue location open until mid-August, before closing for a few weeks to re-locate. The hope is to re-open in he new location by Sept. 1. 

In the meantime, Swenson-Klatt is working to outfit the currently vacant space, which was designed with a restaurant in mind but has no kitchen. 

The move comes amid efforts to reconstruct the Nicollet Avenue corridor, making it more pedestrian friendly. Work outside the new space won’t begin until next summer, but Swenson-Klatt said he is excited by the long-term prospects of being on the street. 

“There’s a real desire to get people more comfortable walking the street, and I think we’re going to be a part of that,” he said. 

Nicollet Square, which opened in December 2010 and is operated by the Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation, is also home to Rise Inc., a job training program. Lifeforce Chiropractic, previously located at 4100 Grand Ave., is also expected to move into the building in early June. 

Happy hour ban 

lifted in Edina

EDINA — Edina’s longstanding ban on happy hour specials was lifted on Thursday, May 10. 

The Edina City Council voted at their May 1 meeting to rescind the prohibition on happy hour drink specials after business owners said they found it difficult to compete with other businesses in neighboring communities without such rules.

Some restrictions still apply, however. The new ordinance does not allow two-for-one drinks, prize offers, games, punch cards or coupons. 

Several restaurants, including Parasole’s Mozza Mia, Salut, Good Earth and Pittsburgh Blue, Barrio, Edina Grill, D’Amico & Sons, and Beaujo’s, immediately moved to offer happy hour specials. 

“We’re really excited that the city is giving us the opportunity to give our guests something they’ve been asking for,” said Stephanie Shimp, the vice president of marketing for the Blue Plate Restaurant Company, which operates the Edina Grill.  

Kip Clayton, vice president of business development for Parasole, said the focus will be on “civilized” happy hours that “respect the neighborhood and our neighbors.”

Parking options 

being considered 

at 50th & France

EDINA — City officials have told business owners who want to see more public parking at 50th & France to come up with a clear vision before they move ahead with the project. 

The latest discussion came on May 1, when the Edina City Council discussed the idea of razing the 37-year-old parking ramp on 49½ Street in favor of a six-story, 435-stall ramp. The 274-stall ramp is now three stories tall. 

Improvements to the four-story ramp off W. 51st St., including two new elevators, upgraded lighting and façade improvements, were also discussed at the meeting. 

Those projects would be done in concert with a host of other improvements, including the replacement of deteriorated pavers, an improved irrigation system and new landscaping. 

The total project is estimated to cost between $11 million and $12 million. City officials plan to pass the costs to businesses within the 50th & France Business District though special tax assessments, though some public financing is also being discussed. 

After hearing concerns about the height of the 49½ Street ramp, city officials were asked to consider a ramp with some underground parking. That idea would drive up costs significantly, however. 

Concerns about customer and employee access were also expressed. 

A recent survey of parking at the popular shopping area showed there is a need for at least 200 more parking spaces in the area. The area’s three parking ramps now have 951 parking spaces. There are also 120 surface lot spaces. 

The original timeline called for the City Council to approve the site plan in June, and for construction to begin in late summer, lasting nearly a year. 

No future meetings will be scheduled until property owners build consensus and request the item be put back on the City Council agenda, however. 

Blow dry bars coming to 50th & France, Uptown 

Two new blow dry bars will open in southwest Minneapolis in June.

Blowdry!, led by HAUS Salon’s Charlie Brackney and Jessica Reipke, is opening at 1203 Lagoon Ave., and the Wow Bar, led by stylist Jason Deavalon, is opening at 4942 France Ave. Exact opening dates for each location are still being determined. 

Unlike traditional salons, owners of the blowdry bars say they will focus on styling rather than cuts and colors. The idea is to give customers the look and feel of going for a haircut, but for a lower cost. Services at each location will cost $35. 

Owners say they expect women to use the services before events such as an important business meeting or wedding, or simply to pamper themselves as part of a fun night out. 

“We’re not just going to be doing people’s hair, we’re going to be giving them a really wow experience,” said the Wow Bar’s Deavalon, a 23-year industry veteran. 

The locations are the first blowdry bars in the Twin Cities, but are part of a national trend. The first blowdry bar opened in Canada around six years ago, and a growing number have opened on both coasts since then. 

Another blowdry bar, Blast, is opening on Washington Avenue and at St. Louis Park’s Shops at the West End, also in June.

Reipke, of Blowdry!, said opening at the same time as the other locations relieves some of the pressure of being the first to try something new in an untested market. 

“This is a brand new concept so to not have the burden of educating the market of its viability is really great,” she said. 

Reipke and Brackney have been testing the services at HAUS Salon, and say they have seen enough interest to already begin contemplating additional locations. 

“I really see this as the next wave of the way women groom themselves,” Brackney said. 

Got a buzz tip? Email Journal editor Sarah McKenzie at [email protected]