After more than 40 years on Lyndale, the Volvo dealership will close in mid-June to make way for a new Walgreens and surface parking.
“It was a very difficult decision, but it sort of made itself,” said Borton Volvo CEO Kjell Bergh.
He said the City Council’s decision to create a Pedestrian Oriented Overlay District forced his hand — automotive operations aren’t allowed in such districts. Although Volvo is grandfathered into compliance, Bergh said he could “never expand our business by as much as a foot,” something he said is crucial for dealerships. Instead, Bergh is expanding his Golden Valley location.
Howard Bergerud of Semper Development said he plans to renovate the existing dealership building for a new Walgreens. Surface parking would cover the rest of the site, he said, with 44 spaces on the north and south sides of the building. The Borton building between the dealership and gas station would be torn down, he said. The store would not have a drive-thru pharmacy.
Construction would potentially start in mid-June, with the store launch around Thanksgiving. City staff said they received the project plans, but they have not issued permits for construction to begin.
Bergerud does not own the current Walgreens site at 5415 Lyndale Ave. S. across the street, but he said Walgreens would vacate the building, making it available to new tenants. The 5415 property owner could not be reached for comment.
“The store is over 20 years old,” Bergerud said, noting that his company, which builds Walgreens across the country, originally built the Lyndale store. “This is a larger footprint, and it will provide better service to the community.”
The original store is 8,000 square feet; the new store would be 14,000 square feet.
Bergh of Borton Volvo said he’s considered selling for years, and he had a contract offer in place before the economy collapsed.
“I’ve always been inundated with requests from developers,” Bergh said. “As soon as the Pedestrian Overlay District was approved, developers started calling. We held them off for a while.”
Pedestrian Overlay Districts are designed to promote street life and encourage the pedestrian character of commercial areas.
Bergh said he will continue to own properties on the 5500 block of Lyndale (home of Coldwell Banker Burnet and Enterprise Rent-A-Car), with no immediate plans to sell.
“The neighborhood has been absolutely sensational,” Bergh said.
Borton Volvo hosted Kenny School’s annual spring fundraiser; sponsored sports teams; supported the Kenny and Lynnhurst neighborhood associations; and closed the street for the annual Borton Volvo Block Party, drawing up to 5,000 people.
“We’ll continue to support the neighborhood even after we expand our campus in Golden Valley, because a large percentage of our clientele is in the South and Southwest metro,” Bergh said.