Lunds Eyes Downtown Mpls. Grocery Store

On the heels of a successful store in Northeast Minneapolis, Lund Food Holdings is revisiting earlier plans to open a grocery store downtown, near Hennepin Avenue and 12th Street.

A downtown Minneapolis grocery store may finally be in the works.

Aaron Sorenson, spokesman for Lund Food Holdings, Inc., said Thursday that the company is “exploring the option” of building a new Lunds full-service grocery store in downtown Minneapolis at a site that the company owns at Hennepin Avenue and 12th Street.

About five years ago, Lunds “had a vision for two stores in the downtown area,” Sorenson said. The company opened a location near Central Avenue and University Avenue in Northeast Minneapolis in 2006. That store “has proven very successful,” but “over-aggressive” plans on the part of Lunds to develop two stores almost simultaneously caused the company to temporarily shelf plans for the Hennepin and 12th site.

When Lunds again began considering a downtown store, it was approached by developer Alatus, LLC. Lunds signed a lease agreement for Alatus' proposed development at 11th Street and Hennepin-one block away from the site Lunds owns. Sorenson said he “can't speak to the delays on that development,” but Lunds is no longer contractually bound to lease the space.

So the company has refocused its sights on the 12th and Hennepin location. During the past decade, the company has bought up nearly the entire city block surrounded by Hennepin Avenue, Harmon Place, 12th Street, and 13th Street. It owns three buildings on the block-but there are a couple that it doesn't own, including the building on Harmon that is occupied by Buca di Beppo.

Lunds, a privately held company, declined to disclose specific store plans. It hasn't yet submitted a plan to the city, and Sorenson said that the company is “taking this in steps.” It intends to meet with residents and neighborhood associations during the next couple of weeks to “truly gather their opinions” on the potential project.

Minneapolis residents have long showed interest in a downtown grocery store. In a recent survey conducted by Twin Cities Business, respondents indicated that grocery is among the types of retail that the area lacks. In fact, a handful of responses denoted Lunds or Byerly's stores as top picks. (More information from the survey will be featured in the May issue of Twin Cities Business.)

There have also been discussions regarding a potential Lunds in St. Paul. In September, news broke that the City of St. Paul has plans for a $15 million development project, which includes initial plans for a Lunds grocery store.

Lund Food Holdings employs about 3,200, mostly in the Twin Cities. The company operates 10 Lunds in the metro area, as well as 11 Byerly's stores-including 10 in the Twin Cities and one in St. Cloud.