Sunday, December 19, 2010
Proposal for BJ's Site Get an Upgrade
Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, photos by Pat Carney.
Editorial note: This post is appearing on NXNS instead of Hawthorne Voices because there has not yet been time for the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council to review Land Ho's proposals or take an official position on them. It's clearer, then, that any opinions expressed here are mine only, and not necessarily formal positions of HNC.
The developers for Land Ho, which is moving forward with a plan to acquire and develop the current site of BJ's, came before the Hawthorne business committee last week. One of the first things I noted when they gave their proposal was that the name on the bottom of their design plans had changed from "North Loop Gateway" to the far more bland "W Broadway & Washington Mixed Use Development." I consider this to be at least a small sign that they are paying more attention to our community. Some of my neighbors had agreed with my expressed concern that naming the project after a neighborhood where the development wouldn't even take place was, at best, insensitive to the Hawthorne and Near North communities.
As it happens, the name won't be prominently displayed on the constructed building; it's just a tagline for the proposal as it moves forward.
The other area of concern that I had was in regards to how well the current proposal fits in with the West Broadway Alive Plan. The initial site drawings for the development really did not take enough of that Plan into account. As Land Ho has gone to various community groups and committees at the city council, it appears that their plans have come more and more into conformity with West Broadway Alive. Are they close enough for approval? That remains to be seen, although I have to admit to being pretty impressed with what was presented to the HNC business committee.
Where things really get interesting is in a dispute between...
...Land Ho and Merwin Liquors. There's a little-known provision in Minneapolis barring liquor stores from being within 2000 feet of each other. Merwin's is just beyond that 2000-foot line, and so a liquor store at this site would be within city guidelines. Except that Merwin's is proposing a small expansion of their business that would bring them within 1,998 feet of the new site.
Land Ho is predictably appealing the permission granted for Merwin's expansion. It's not clear, at least to me, what the effects would be if it gets approved. Would it jeopardize anything already granted to the Land Ho site? Would it set a precedent that could allow for a higher concentration of liquor stores in NoMi?
Finally, I was told by another party that the developers are looking for a "Surdyk's-slash-Chicago Lake Liquors" partner. I like both of those establishments, but that's an awful big "slash." Those are two very different businesses, and I can't help but be a bit skeptical that a developer who lumps them together in that way won't be taking the effect of his establishment on the community into proper consideration.
Land Ho is attempting to get city council approval in January of 2011 for their site, and went before the City Planning Commission on December 16th. (Minutes, reports, and other links not yet available) I will post their design plans if I get those documents so that NoMi residents can be informed about what kind of impact this will have in our community.