Minneapolis panel says no to Trader Joe's

  • Article by: ERIC ROPER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 21, 2012 - 11:25 PM

It's the company's second failed attempt to build on Lyndale Av.

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Trader Joe's in St. Louis Park.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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A developer's effort to build Minneapolis' first Trader Joe's fell short Thursday when a key city panel voted against changing zoning for the project in the Lyn-Lake area.

The decision, which is likely to be ratified by the full City Council, effectively kills plans to build the grocery and liquor store at 27th Street and Lyndale Avenue S. It's the second time in three years Trader Joe's has tried unsuccessfully to locate on busy Lyndale Avenue.

City planning staff had recommended approving the rezoning, but the City Council's Zoning and Planning Committee denied it on a unanimous voice vote.

The higher-grade commercial zoning was necessary because of the project's size, as well as its plan to sell beer and wine.

"This is not about Trader Joe's. This is about a zoning change. Period," said Council Member Meg Tuthill, who represents the surrounding area.

Tuthill opposed rezoning because it was intended for "one entity and one entity only."

"That totally goes against my grain," Tuthill said. "I personally consider that spot rezoning. I don't think it's healthy."

Prior to the vote, senior city planner Becca Farrar said at Thursday's meeting that rezoning is often in the interest of the property owner, but in this case it would also be in the "public interest" because this use is supported in commercial corridors.

The board of the local neighborhood group, Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association, voted against a measure to support the rezoning earlier this year, however.

Council Member Gary Schiff, chair of the Zoning and Planning Committee, noted that the area is intended to have mixed uses and already contains residential and commercial spaces.

"We would be going a big step backwards rezoning this for a single-use development," Schiff said.

A representative of TOLD Development, Trent Mayberry, declined to comment immediately following the vote. The council will likely take final action on the project next Friday.

The store would have been Trader Joe's first in Minneapolis. The existing metro-area locations are in St. Paul, St. Louis Park, Minnetonka, Woodbury and Maple Grove.

It is not the first time the grocery chain has tried unsuccessfully to break into Minnesota's largest city. Trader Joe's attempted to open a store at 22nd Street and Lyndale Avenue S. in 2009, but couldn't get a waiver from city rules that prohibited it from selling beer and wine so close to Hum's Liquor Store.

Eric Roper • 612-673-1732 Twitter: @StribRoper

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