Vacant Site Prompts Bar Fight

Vacant Site Prompts Bar Fight

Which threatens southwest Minneapolis residents more: an abandoned gas station or a thriving business?

Change may be good, but it’s not always welcome. Redevelopment plans in south Minneapolis often rankle neighbors, even when the property in question is a boarded-up, years-vacant gas station.

The former 7-Eleven/SuperAmerica at 4000 Lyndale Ave. S. was shuttered in 2006 and sat empty throughout the recession. But when plans surfaced last spring to convert the eyesore into a neighborhood pub, some residents organized to raise concerns about parking and late-night hours.

The site is just 13 blocks south of a proposed Trader Joe’s grocery store, which Minneapolis neighbors helped defeat in 2012. Due west, in Linden Hills, developer Mark Dwyer pared his condo plans after objections about his project’s scale.

At the SA site, the upshot was that Paul Dzubnar, who owns the St. Paul-based Green Mill pizza chain and Crooked Pint Ale House in downtown Minneapolis, had to scale back his plans before moving forward.

“We’re going to close a lot earlier during weekday nights. We shrank the size of the restaurant,” says Dzubnar, who is also a partner in the Town Hall Brewery group. “It’s taken a lot of time. It took a while to work with the neighbors.”

Would neighbors have preferred that the corner lot remain empty?

Jinx Engstrom, who has lived in the area for more than 40 years, says that parking is already tight. “I just think it could be a smaller restaurant,” she says, but acknowledges “I’d like to have something that looks better than a graffiti magnet.”

Dzubnar paid $305,000 in March to acquire the site from Speedway SuperAmerica LLC, which has another SA store on an opposite corner of the intersection. Minneapolis-based Smart Associates is designing the 100-seat project, which Dzubnar hopes to open around April 1. The Minneapolis Planning Commission approved Dzubnar’s plans in mid-September.

While he envisioned another Crooked Pint Ale House, Dzubnar settled on a neighborhood pub concept with a name to match the neighborhood—Harriet’s. Nothing objectionable there, he hopes.