The Robbinsdale City Council approved the demolition of the historic 1950s Terrace Theatre on Tuesday night, a move that drew loud applause from residents packing the City Hall meeting room.
“The best thing for Robbinsdale is to move forward with this plan,” said Council Member Dan Rogan.
Early this month, the council had given preliminary approval to demolish the Terrace as part of a redevelopment plan for the area that was to include a Hy-Vee grocery store.
While many residents supported that proposal, pointing out that Robbinsdale currently has no grocery store, it became a flashpoint for residents who were trying to save the theater.
As the controversy intensified, Hy-Vee retreated, notifying the city last week that it was delaying plans to proceed with a 91,500-square-foot store at the 10-acre site off 36th Avenue and W. Broadway.
At Tuesday’s meeting, City Manager Marcia Glick said the city had a letter from the theater’s owners asking the City Council to vote to demolish the theater. A city ordinance requires council approval for a demolition permit.
The council’s vote could face a roadblock. Also Tuesday, the Friends of the Historic Terrace filed suit in Hennepin County District Court requesting a temporary restraining order to halt demolition. Attorney Erik Hansen, who fought a planned renovation of Peavey Plaza in Minneapolis, is representing the group.
The majority of the 45 residents who spoke during Tuesday night’s public forum were in favor of demolishing the theater and bringing Hy-Vee to the city.
Many said a grocery store would bring jobs to the area and revitalize a vacant area in town.
Robert Anthony, a Robbinsdale resident, said he sympathizes with those who want to preserve the theater, but believes a grocery store would improve the community.
The site has “been blighted many years and it’s time to move into the future,” Anthony said.
But the save-the-Terrace campaign, which gathered more than 1,000 signatures and organized a Hy-Vee boycott, has had an effect, by all accounts.
“Over the past several weeks, it’s been difficult to witness the friction our proposed project has caused among Robbinsdale residents,” Hy-Vee spokeswoman Tara Deering-Hansen said in a recent prepared statement.
“When we enter a community, we want to be respectful of our neighbors’ history, culture and all the things that matter to them. We will continue to assess the situation and keep communication lines open with city officials.”
Developers have contended that the theater has structural problems and redevelopment is the best option.