A Hy-Vee grocery store would replace the historic Terrace Theatre and part of an adjacent mall in Robbinsdale, should city leaders agree to their demolition.
Developers announced details about the store at a packed community meeting Wednesday. The store would be the seventh Hy-Vee in the Twin Cities for the growing Des Moines-based chain, and the first big grocery store in Robbinsdale in years.
“We think this is a good location,” said Phil Hoey, Hy-Vee’s director of real estate.
But the plans have divided the northwest metro suburb. While some residents are excited about the first grocery store in Robbinsdale since a Rainbow Foods closed in 2013, others continue to rally to save the 1950s-era theater from destruction.
The proposal goes to the city’s Planning Commission, which will hold a public hearing July 21, followed by a City Council review.
The council, acting as the Economic Development Authority, already has approved a tax-increment financing study for the proposal.
Under the plans by St. Louis Park-based Inland Development Partners, Hy-Vee would open a 91,500-square-foot store in place of the theater and the north side of the divided mall. The plans include a 4,500-square-foot convenience store and coffee shop, with gas pumps and a drive-through in a parking lot, on the 10-acre site off 36th Avenue and W. Broadway.
Construction on the project, which could cost as much as $30 million, could start by October, with the store opening in September 2017.
“It will move quickly,” Kent Carlson of Inland Development Partners told city leaders earlier this month.
Residents got their first look in years at the inside of the theater Wednesday when developers showed photos from a blight analysis done by a company, hired by the city but funded by the developer.
The theater, which closed in 1999 and is owned by a New York City-based investment group, has no remaining windows. Doors and seats are gone and the leaky roof is failing, Carlson said.
“It really became evident very quickly that redevelopment was the best opportunity because of the current conditions,” he told city leaders.
Carlson added that the theater was studied as a possible amenity for a multifamily housing development, but the idea was vetoed because of the structural issues. Asbestos in the old Rainbow Foods building also would have to be removed.
“I can see why somebody would make a great argument — that if it hasn’t been open in the 21st century, that hey, it doesn’t fit anymore or it’s deteriorated enough with snowdrifts and rainstorms — that it can’t be saved,” City Council Member Bill Blonigan said.
David Leonhardt, who heads a preservation group trying to save the theater, disagreed, saying the photos exaggerate the theater’s decay.
“Things are not as bad as they appear,” he said. “Our primary goal is to work with the developer to refocus so it could still include the theater. If we could have both the grocery store and the theater, everyone would be happy.”