Wednesday, the developers who plan to turn the vacant lot at the intersection of W. Broadway and Penn Avenue N. into a modern mixed-use development put up a tent, set out some cookies frosted with the Broadway Flats development logo (a musical symbol for the key of B flat) and announced they were ready to begin work. The plan: build a $25 million project that will include shops, apartments, underground parking, a bus shelter built into the side of the building and an injection of energy they hope will spur other development.
Dean Rose, one of the project’s developers, said he expects the project will take just over a year to complete. He hopes the 19,000 square feet of commercial space will be open by April and the 103 housing units ready to rent by July 2016.
It’s a major effort but a relatively short move for the business that will anchor the development. Rose’s family business, the Broadway Liquor Outlet, will move across the street and take up about half of the Broadway Flats retail space. The store was heavily damaged in the tornado that hit north Minneapolis in May 2011. Rose said Wednesday that in the aftermath, his family had a decision to make: stay and rebuild or move somewhere new.
“It was simple,” Rose told a crowd of local business owners, neighborhood leaders and politicians, including U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, Mayor Betsy Hodges and two members of the Minneapolis City Council. “We were going to rebuild here because our commitment is to the North Side of Minneapolis.”
Getting the plan approved, however, wasn’t so simple. Rose first had to push for a change in state legislation that would allow him to move the liquor store across the street without a lengthy rezoning process.
Speakers at the groundbreaking event said they’re glad the people behind the project have been persistent, and optimistic that other developers and business owners will follow. West Broadway has been an area long targeted for revival.
Ellison recalled standing on the site, once home to a fast-food restaurant, shortly after the tornado.
“We didn’t know what we were going to do,” said Ellison, D-Minn. “To see that destruction now converted into a rebuilding is really important.”
The residential section of the development will have studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, a fitness room and bike storage, among other amenities. Rose has previously said the units would rent for $730 to $1,100 per month.
He hasn’t secured other tenants for the commercial space, but says he plans to begin advertising for those spaces soon.
Tara Watson, the owner of a nearby chiropractic clinic and fitness center, said she’d like to see more specialty shops pop up in the area.
“No more fast food,” she said.
Watson said the development should attract working and middle-income people who will invest back in their neighborhood businesses and help the community build momentum.
“This is what the neighborhood needs,” she said. “This is the definition of a more urban development.”