North Minneapolis's railroad-themed pizza joint may be about to leave the station.
The riverfront site of Broadway Bar & Pizza (2025 West River Road, Mpls., 612-529-7745, broadwaypizza.com) could turn into a seven-story affordable apartment building by 2021, if everything goes according to plan.
Developer Schafer Richardson submitted plans to the City Planning Commission for a 160-unit building overlooking the Mississippi that would replace the pizzeria built there in 1974.
But there's no closing date just yet for the restaurant.
"We are still making pizza every day," said Broadway Pizza CEO Jim Kruizenga. "It's a work in progress, obviously, when you're doing affordable housing. Everything is a process, and we're in no big rush to leave."
By his estimate, the change could happen by spring or summer of 2021.
"We're very early in the process," said Maureen Michalski, director of development for Schafer Richardson. "It does take time, as any affordable housing deal does."
Kruizenga and his business partners will remain owners of the hillside property with views of downtown Minneapolis.
"This site is the nexus between development along Broadway to the west toward Robbinsdale, and, if you go across the bridge to the east, a lot of things happening in Northeast," Michalski said. "This feels like the focal point of all that activity in both directions."
The property was last sold in 2001 for just over $1 million. As of 2018, Hennepin County property records show the estimated market value at approximately $1.4 million.
"Everything has its time," Kruizenga said. "It's in a beautiful location, but the building is very old. It's an extensive piece of property and we love it. I love it."
He has fielded a number of offers to develop condos there. "It's too valuable a property to pass on to the next pizza maker, if you know what I mean," he said.
Still, he was determined see the land go to affordable housing. "I really want to leave Broadway's legacy in north Minneapolis. That is important to me, and it's something the neighborhood can embrace and really want."
The income limit for all units would be set at 60% of area median income, with the possibility of a further reduction to the income threshold depending on availability of Section 8 vouchers.
Broadway Pizza, a 14-restaurant local chain, began humbly at a nearby north Minneapolis location in 1961. Owner Eddie Peck relocated the first site to the current location over a decade later due to Interstate 94 construction. With its trademark caboose at the corner, the place became a "neighborhood icon," Kruizenga said.
The new apartment building won't be zoned for commercial use, and the caboose can't stay, either. "We're certainly going to try to preserve it and see if we can find a home for it," he said.
Kruizenga said a new Broadway Pizza for north Minneapolis could be a consolation, if he can find the right spot.
In the meantime, consider this plenty of notice to make it back to the buffet before anything changes.
"I can tell you this wasn't an easy decision," he said.