Posted by Steve Brandt and Eric Roper
What’s headed for the old Kowalski’s grocery store site next to the planned Webber Park library that Hennepin County breaks ground on next year?
The leading candidate for the North Side project is another grocery. That’s the proposal by Pillsbury United Communities, the social service agency not known for peddling groceries.
It is proposing to partner with Super Valu on the grocery aspects of the development. The grocery wholesaler and retailer would supply expertise on designing and operating a grocery and serve as its wholesaler.
Oppidan would be the developer and construction manager for the renovation of the 15,000-square-foot space at 4414 Humboldt Av. N.
Meanwhile, the fate of another North Side grocery proposal is up in the air. Entrepreneur Glenn Ford missed a key deadline in his efforts to open a 30,000-square-foot Praxis grocery store at the corner of Plymouth and Penn Avenues N.
He didn't submit architectural plans to the city by April 28. He met a Feb. 20 deadline for submitting a preliminary concept plan for city staff to review. He also submitted an application for $200,000 in Grow North forgivable loan incentives, and supplied preliminary, but not final, financing commitments from two investors, according to city staff.
City spokesman Matt Lindstrom said that city development officials are discussing possible next steps for the proposal, for which the City Council granted its second extension of development deadlines in January. Area Council Member Blong Yang said then he wouldn’t support the project if it missed deadlines.
For the Pillsbury proposal, the County Board is scheduled to vote on May 12 on a staff recommendation to transfer the land from the county to its housing and redevelopment authority. Then a purchase agreement with milestones toward development would be negotiated by that authority.
That was a recommendation of Hennepin County staff after receiving six proposals to develop the site that’s surplus property from assembling the library site. Webber-Camden neighborhood sentiment favored restoring grocery services to an area that lacks a full-service store. The closest is the Cub on Broadway Avenue W. after the closing of a Rainbow store in Robbinsdale.
Also envisioned within the building is a wellness center with a medical professional providing nutritional counseling and diagnostic service. North Side residents suffer from higher rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity than the rest of the city.
The store would create about a dozen full-time jobs, but that’s a conservative estimate, according to Thatcher Imboden, a principal planning analyst for the county. In contrast, the 20,000-square-foot store that Seward Co-op is developing on E. 38th Street on the South Side estimates it will create about 90 jobs, with about two-thirds of them full time. Ford’s Praxis proposal calls for about 75 full time employees in 30,000 square feet.