A long-awaited North Side grocery store that appeared dead this December may ultimately be revived.
A City Council panel will vote Tuesday on extending entrepreneur Glenn Ford's development rights for a city-owned parcel at Penn and Plymouth Aves. The three-month extension would be Ford's second, after twice failing to deliver the so-called Praxis Foods project by the city's deadlines.
Ford initially approached the city in 2011 about his plans to build a 30,000 square foot grocery store -- which would have about 75 full time employees. He hopes to hire Minneapolis residents and sell locally grown food.
The city told Ford in a November letter it would be pulling the plug on the project after the Dec. 31 deadline. He responded that the city was giving up just as he was wrapping up a complicated financing deal.
The new extension -- if approved -- would give Ford until April 28 to submit architectural plans.
The fate of the project could be an important milestone in North Side revitalization -- particularly since the area lacks fresh food options. Its apparent failure was recently cited as indicative of repeated failures to boost the area's economy.
If completed, the store would sell fresh produce, meat and fish, as well as fully prepared meals made on the premises, according to a city staff report.
“I think a war was started that didn’t have to be fought," Ford said Friday. "I’m dedicated to wanting to something in the North Side."
Ford is working on similar projects in other challenged neighborhoods across the country, none of which have been delivered. Many of those projects also include an aquaponics facility.
Among the complicating factors that delayed the deal was securing financing from AIG Ltd. Commercial Bancorp, which would only sign on if aquaponics was added. Ford now intends to pursue aquaponics at another to-be-determined site, though not in north Minneapolis.
The city-owned land at Penn and Plymouth has sat empty since the city inherited it from a shuttered McDonald's in 1991. Dreams to expand a nearby strip mall there never materialized -- the strip mall closed.
The city has in the past offered Ford $1.8 million toward the $7.2 million project in the form of environmental cleanup funds, tax abatement and forgivable business loans. The tax abatement and business grants are subject to future council approval, however.