Walgreens Pharmacy could replace Roat Osha

Thai restaurant owners bringing redevelopment proposal to East Isles in February

EAST ISLES — The owners of Roat Osha are proposing to close the seven-year-old restaurant on the edge of Uptown as soon as April to make way for the relocation of a nearby Walgreens Pharmacy.

Plans call for demolition of both the restaurant, located at 2650 Hennepin Ave., and a nearby building that was once part of FirstTech, a computer repair business that shuttered in 2014, to make room for a new 16,000-square-foot Walgreens Pharmacy with a drive-through. That Walgreens would replace another outlet for the pharmacy currently located two blocks north at 2426 Hennepin Ave., where it shares the lot with Kowalski’s Market.

Roat Osha owners Somsap and Steve Hein own the 2650 Hennepin Ave. parcel and have purchase agreements in place for two other parcels that would be included in the redevelopment, said Marcie Weslock of Elan Design Lab, a civil engineering firm involved in the project. Applications were submitted Monday to the city, and Weslock anticipated the project would go before the Planning Commission in March.

“The close of the restaurant would likely happen in April,” Weslock said.

She said construction of the Walgreens Pharmacy building is expected to take five to six months. The redevelopment project is scheduled to come before the East Isles Residents Association Zoning and Land Use Committee on Feb. 16.

Andrew Degerstrom of East Isles said he was “extremely disappointed” in the project. (Degerstrom, who also chairs the EIRA neighborhood group, said he was speaking for himself and not the organization.)

Degerstrom said the Uptown Small Area Plan calls for two- to four-story mixed-use development along the Hennepin Avenue commercial corridor, “not single story, single use” buildings. He also objected to the drive-through, which he said makes the street less pedestrian-friendly.

The Uptown Small Area Plan is meant to guide redevelopment in the area but does not have the power of adopted city code. Crafted by area residents, it was adopted by the City Council in 2008.

In another part of Uptown, residents opposed to the Moxy Hotel project at Lake & Emerson have also cited the Uptown Small Area Plan. In that case, project opponents say the six-story hotel goes above the height limit suggested in the plan.

The Heins also own Tum Rup Thai on Lake Street. Attempts to contact them through both restaurants were not immediately successful.