A key Minneapolis committee gave the green light Tuesday to an ice cream factory along the city's riverfront, despite opposition from neighbors and a developer's warnings that it will kill an adjacent condominium project.
The City Council's development committee voted to sell a city-owned parcel across from Gold Medal Park to Izzy's Ice Cream, a well-known St. Paul establishment hoping to expand. The full council will need to approve the sale to Izzy's.
Opponents worry that the facility will be an eyesore in the area and could become a nuisance if Izzy's expands or another industrial tenant moves into the building. Izzy's also does not have immediate plans to sell scoops of ice cream at the factory -- only prepackaged items.
About 150 of those opponents, mostly residents of Bridgewater Lofts, signed their name to a petition that was entered into the record. The city also received a number of letters in support of the Izzy's project.
"This is not about ice cream. This is about a factory," said Judith Borger, a novelist who lives at the lofts, near the site. "And if you start thinking of it as Acme Nuts and Bolts, then the picture changes considerably."
Jim Stanton, president of Shamrock Development, which also developed Bridgewater Lofts, said he won't build a 150-unit complex if Izzy's obtains the parcel. Since he owns the adjoining land, however, he might consider another type of venture in the future.
"I don't want you to view [our statement] that we won't be able to build as a threat," Stanton said, explaining that an industrial neighbor will reduce the value of the condominiums and make the project financially impractical.
Izzy's has hired a prominent Duluth architect, David Salmela, to design the factory. While Salmela's final design has not been formally released, he said Thursday it will be aesthetically pleasing and a "counterpoint to the Guthrie."
Several council members noted that the land is already zoned for light industrial use. Council Member Robert Lilligren said the Historic Mills District is one of the city's "most amazing neighborhoods" after growing rapidly in the past decade. "Like a good urban neighborhood, it has a variety of uses," Lilligren said. "And to me this seems like a very compatible use."
Council Member Don Samuels also felt Izzy's would be a positive addition. "An ice cream factory or production plant is not going to hurt. I think the retail aspect of it is going to enhance the area."
Eric Roper • 612-673-1732 Twitter: @StribRoper