St. Paul OK’s Plans for Retail Center, Pawn Shop

The developer of a proposed retail development asked for an exception to a rule that requires "alternative financial establishments" to be located at least 1,320 feet apart. The city's planning commission on Friday approved the request, allowing the project to move forward.

The City of St. Paul's planning commission on Friday approved plans for a retail development at the former site of an auto dealership-a project that has sparked some debate due to a proposed pawn shop.

A current zoning law requires pawn shops to be at least 1,320 feet from other “alternative financial establishments.” Under the proposed development plans, the pawn shop would be only 1,053 feet from a check cashing and money transfer business called The Piggy Bank.

Developer Red Dog Holdings, LLC, asked the city to modify the requirement and allow it to develop the project at 1891 Suburban Avenue. The city's zoning committee last week recommended that the planning commission deny the request.

Planning Director Donna Drummond said in a Friday phone interview that the commission voted 12 to five in favor of rejecting the zoning committee's recommendation.

The St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce previously wrote a letter in support of the development. It states that the project is expected to create between 180 and 220 new jobs, generate roughly $110,000 in new property taxes for the city, and increase sales tax revenue.

The letter also indicates that the developer has received letters of intent from the following businesses, which could become tenants: MaxIt Pawn, Dairy Queen, Starbucks, Cowboy Slim's, and Chipotle.

Drummond said that once the commission decided to reject the zoning committee's recommendation, Commissioner Bob Spaudling proposed an alternative resolution. The commission added a condition that requires the full development to be built in two years-or else its modification of the alternative financial establishment rule will be revoked, and the developer will have to relocate the pawn shop or eliminate it altogether.

According to Drummond, Minneapolis-based DJR Architecture, Inc., has been chosen by the developer to design the retail center, which is located on the site of a former auto dealership.

There is a 10-day period in which appeals can be filed. If someone appeals the planning commission's decision, the matter will be turned over to the City Council. If no one appeals, the project can move forward as planned.


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