It's about as highly anticipated as a grocery store gets. Proposed, delayed, ditched and resurrected, the new Lunds supermarket for downtown Minneapolis looks like it's finally a go.
New plans at the city's Heritage Preservation Commission show a one-story market at 12th Street and Hennepin Avenue S., with a liquor store, rain garden and office space to rent out. It's all set to open next spring, Lund Food Holdings Inc. confirmed Friday.
"Barring any unforeseen setbacks in the city approval process, we are fully prepared and eager to begin construction on this new Lunds grocery store in the fall," company spokesman Aaron Sorenson said.
It's good news for downtown residents for whom lack of a full-scale grocery store has a been a key issue. Neil Reardon, with Citizens for a Loring Park Community, said many downtowners shop for groceries at the Target store on Nicollet Mall, but it isn't a full supermarket and doesn't have a wide selection of fresh produce. The new Lunds, he said, will be "a big plus for the neighborhood."
At 20,000 square feet, it will be similar in size and feel to the new Lunds across the Mississippi River from downtown Minneapolis, Sorenson said. That store, about 26,000 square feet, is below the Cobalt Condominiums at University and Central Avenues SE. Sorenson wouldn't say how much the new project will cost.
The design will be a first for the Edina-based grocer. Lund typically builds its stores from the ground up or goes into new developments. This time it's going into two brick buildings that are nearly 100 years old, on properties Lund bought years ago. With their oversize windows, the buildings are remnants of the city's historic automotive district.
Lund, which owns almost all of the block bounded by Hennepin Avenue, Harmon Place and 12th and 13th streets, would largely keep the old auto showroom buildings intact, but will put a ground-level addition onto 1201 Hennepin Av. S., where the grocery store will be, and raze the rear half of 1206 Harmon Place, where the liquor store will be. Both stores will have leasable office space above them.
The Heritage Preservation Commission will take up the grocery store plan at a hearing June 7. It approved the liquor store part of the project this past week, although the rain garden with its patio, aimed at managing storm water, gave pause for concern.
"The Harmon Place Historic District is significant for its depiction of auto-related commercial development in the early 20th century," the commission said in a report. "Rain gardens and outdoor seating plazas were not known to be common features in such areas during the period of significance."
In 2005, Lund submitted plans for a multistory grocery store on the block but later hit the pause button as it struggled with the design and got preoccupied with building the other store across the river.
The next stop for both parts of Lund's plan is the city Planning Commission for land-use approvals.
Jennifer Bjorhus • 612-673-4683