Liquor store seen as anchor for W. Broadway in Minneapolis

  • Article by: MAYA RAO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 9, 2012 - 8:11 AM

Dean Rose's family has been in the liquor business for three generations in Minneapolis.

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Dean Rose stood on what’s left of his liquor store Friday, nearly a year after it was destroyed by a tornado in north Minneapolis. The building on W. Broadway is to be torn down within a few days; Rose hopes to resume selling liquor from a temporary building across the street.

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

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As a child, Dean Rose would go out to breakfast with his father on Saturdays and then ride with him from their Edina home to the family liquor store in north Minneapolis, where he worked the cash register standing on a box.

Years later Rose abandoned plans to go to Chicago after college, instead electing to help his father run the business, which stood strong as W. Broadway deteriorated and thousands of people abandoned the North Side.

Today, nearly a year after a tornado roared through north Minneapolis, the Broadway Liquor Outlet's windows are broken and boarded, the door is plastered with an "order to raze and remove building" and the plywood features slogans such as "we pledge to stand up for a better future."

Dean Rose, 46, is pressing ahead.

Legislation pushed by Rose's politically connected consultant, Jackie Cherryhomes, is making its way through the State Capitol to bypass a lengthy city rezoning procedure so Rose can relocate Broadway Liquor Outlet across the street. Cherryhomes' longtime developer client has partnered with Rose to include the liquor store in a bigger development with 75 affordable housing units and other shops.

Plans at the corner of Broadway and Penn Avenue are unfolding as Minneapolis officials try to reverse the tide of people leaving the North Side to live and shop. Another housing development by Common Bond Communities is also in the works nearby.

"This is a very high priority for the city. ... This is a major focal point for us in redeveloping the North Side," Tom Streitz, the city's director of housing and policy development, said about the project.

The 2201 W. Broadway building is set to be demolished within days to make way for a temporary structure where Rose will sell liquor during the expected two years' construction time.

Not everyone is thrilled with the vision. Landlord Keith Reitman claims that "political currency" has allowed Rose to keep Broadway Liquor Outlet in a decrepit state, with broken and un-boarded windows, and opposes his plan to operate out of a temporary site across the street because it would worsen the neighborhood's atmosphere. Reitman also has turned down offers from Rose and his development partner, Steve Minn, to buy his nearby property, also a run-down building, because he wants more money.

"I'm keeping my baby, like Madonna used to say," Reitman said.

Rose said the project will go ahead without Reitman.

"We have an opportunity to rebuild Penn and Broadway and so far Keith has the notion that he's not going to play ball," said Rose. "He's there to extort the highest price he can, when in reality we're all going to win if we work together."

The Roses had their liquor business since the late 1940s, when Dean Rose's grandfather opened their first store at 9th Street and Cedar Avenue S. After the city condemned the property, the shop moved to north Minneapolis, where his father and grandfather grew up.

That store, at Washington Avenue just south of Plymouth Avenue, was also taken by the city, this time to widen a road. So in 1989 Broadway Liquor Outlet opened at the corner of Broadway and Penn Avenue.

"It was how you envision liquor stores in movies, with low drop-down ceilings and metal shelves, and it seemed a little dirty and grungy and seedy," Rose recalled.

In 2006, he put in hardwood floors, raised the ceilings and hung old black-and-white photos depicting Broadway's bustling heyday in the first half of the 20th century.

Five years later, on May 22, 2011, the tornado tore off the back door, broke all the windows and blasted off the roof.

Rose had already planned for years to move across the street to a lot he owned. The Fire and Ice restaurant on that site also was destroyed by the storm -- the empty hulk is now, as some put it, a "dead zone."

Rose hired Cherryhomes, the former City Council president turned consultant, who introduced him to Minn, himself a former council member.

But to move such a business across the street, the city required that it be part of five contiguous acres of commercial zoning -- and the location had only 3.9.

So Cherryhomes, a registered lobbyist, approached the district's state senator, Linda Higgins, and asked her to sponsor a bill that would allow them to bypass an otherwise lengthy city zoning procedure. Higgins is a longtime friend of Cherryhomes and formerly served as her campaign treasurer. Recently, Cherryhomes has been a political confidante as Higgins embarks on a race for Hennepin County commissioner.

Those connections are "irrelevant," said Higgins, who co-authored the bill with Rep. Bobby Joe Champion. Rose, she said, is "viewed as a good asset to the community."

The bill became part of the omnibus liquor legislation that cleared the Minnesota Senate and House; a conference committee was called last week to iron out differences before the bill returns to both houses for a vote.

Cherryhomes is president of the West Broadway Business and Area Coalition, a nonprofit that describes its mission as creating an inviting West Broadway corridor that will transform the North Side. Rose is treasurer of the organization, which in February sent a letter of support for the project to Don Samuels, the ward's City Council member.

Both Rose and Cherryhomes recused themselves from the organization's approval of the project at a February meeting.

Samuels, who has been a political ally of Cherryhomes, teamed up with Mayor R.T. Rybak to encourage council members to sign a letter of support for the legislation.

For some in the neighborhood, the development can't happen fast enough.

Mike Pierson said business at his clothing store across the street has fallen 40 percent since reopening last June after the tornado, and attributes much of that drop-offf to the absence of traffic to the liquor store and the tornado-ravaged Fire and Ice restaurant across the avenue.

He said he is excited about the project but that with at least two years until it comes to fruition, "What am I going to do 'til then? I'm making it, but it's just not easy."

If all goes as planned, Rose would start selling liquor again from his temporary store next month.

"Why would I leave something that I have such roots in?" Rose said.

Maya Rao • 612-673-4210

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