Size: 33,000 square feet
Developer: The Driessen Group
Architect: DJR Architecture
Details: The long-vacant former Whitaker Buick car lot on St. Paul’s University Avenue is to be redeveloped into a Goodwill retail store under plans submitted by the Minneapolis-based Driessen Group.
The site is on the northwest corner of University Avenue and N. Griggs Street, about midway between the Hamline Avenue and Lexington Parkway stops along the new Metro Transit Green Line light rail route.
The one-acre former car dealership, Whitaker Buick moved to Forest Lake in 2006, is part of what was once a row of auto-oriented businesses along University that have closed or moved and left large gaps in the streetscape. Several of them have attracted redevelopment efforts as the light rail line approaches its June 14 opening.
The proposed Goodwill building is a two-story, 33,000-square-foot structure that would include 49 parking spaces and a drive-through lane for donation drop-offs. Goodwill/Easter Seals of Minnesota will use it as a replacement for its current retail store at 533 N. Fairview Av., which is to be converted to other uses, the developer said.
The new store would initially have 35 to 40 employees, with plans to eventually increase that number to more than 50.
The St. Paul Planning Commission approved a conditional-use permit this month despite opposition from the Hamline Midway Coalition neighborhood group, which contended that the store is essentially an automobile-oriented business that would operate in a transit-oriented corridor.
Don Jacobson is a freelance writer in St. Paul. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.