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.


  1. This proposal rang a bell, so I did a bit of searching on the JN site and found the following post:

    If that post was accurate, my BS detector is starting to blink a bit. What happened to the Surdyks/French Meadows Bakery concept John wrote about? Was that true or did he get something wrong? If he did have the facts straight at the time he wrote his piece, how did we digress to a Surdyks/Chicago Lake already? Let's face it, you don't open that kind of joint - it's either or - Surdyks type or a Chicago Lake type. They really don't compliment each other.

    Again, assuming everything John wrote about was accurate, it bothers me that something the neighborhood would have loved to have - French Meadow Bakery or something similar - has already been stripped from the original proposal. Was there ever any intent to try for a French Meadow Bakery or was that just a line to get the neighborhoods support? What's next? The Surkdys type liquor store goes away so what we end up with is just another Booze Joint on Broadway?

    Are there any provisions in the City's process to prevent that from happening?

  2. Kevin, I'm not sure if Surdyk's had ever committed to the site. In the counterpoint I wrote to that JNS post, I reminded people that all we'd heard was that a Surdyk's-STYLE store and a French Meadows-STYLE restaurant were proposed.

    At the business committee, the developers did confirm though, that French Meadows had initially signed on. But the process was taking too long and they went in another direction. So now they are moving forward first with the proper zoning and planning, then with financing, and then seeking out partners.

    Based on what was said at the business committee, it doesn't seem right now as if they are scaling back their commitment to a quality restaurant at the site. If anything, the new designs looked better than before and would hopefully attract the kind of establishment we've been longing for.

    I'm not sure how you prevent one kind of liquor store or another through zoning and/or licensing. But if we get something like a Surdyk's, then we better patronize the place. Otherwise it either goes out of business and paves the way for more of the same, or it changes itself to that in order to stay afloat.

  3. Land HO? Seriously? I mean talk about a name for a liquor store developer that produces lowered expectations. Doesn't this community already have plenty of Land Hoes.

    I can't see this location draw much of the condo trade up from Washington Ave, but I can certainly see where Merwins might be concerned. If this liquor store makes the slightest pretense of being a high brow retailer they might siphon off the more mobile wine and liquor trade leaving a higher concentration of Boones Farm and Mad Dog 20/20 type customers who frequent that corner.

  4. Jeff - I realize Surdyks has not made any commitment to this project and maybe I wasn't clear in my post. When I mentioned the Surdyks name I meant Surdyks-style liquor store. Just substitute that phrase in my original post the my meaning should be clearer. In fact it would make no sense at all for Surdyks to commit to this project. There flag-ship store is just minutes away and I can see no evidence they are looking to saturate the liquor store business in the metro with a host of new stores.

    So, who exactly is tossing around the Surdyks-type liquor store concept and why? And what exactly does that mean? A cheese shop, wine tasting, no single cans of booze in brown paper bags? Has anyone asked for specifics?

    Pardon my skepticism, but tossing around the Surdyks-style liquor store concept could also be a ploy of the developers to gain support for yet another liquor store. No I don't think there is anything anyone could do to stop another liquor store based on the following:

    However, if these developers would ever need support for a variance of any kind, the neighborhoods would most likely be asked to give this approval. In that case, I would want to know EXACTLY what kind of business I'm being asked to support. So once again, what do they mean by a Surdyks-type liquor store and is there a firm commitment to that proposal? They must have some idea and they should have a market study to support what they want to do.

    And that brings me to my second point. Is there a market study of any kind? That's pretty standard in trying to judge if what you're proposing has a chance in hell of succeeding. Heck, we even did that when we were tossing around the idea of putting a coffee shop or something similar in the 009 Project and the Eco building on Lowry/Lyndale.
    Was that presented at any of these meetings? Did anyone ask for one? It seems like we already have at least 2 liquor stores filling that niche pretty close by: the original Surdyks and North Loop Wine and Liquor.

    And my last question: What about the restaurant part of this development? French Meadow was ditched pretty quickly (kind of a red flag IMO), so is it even feasible that another restaurant will want to fill this space? That's a very difficult market even in a good economy and in a good location. If it proves to be impossible to find another restaurant what will happen to that space? What type of businesses not even restaurant related could occupy that space? A Shop and Go, A Dollar Store? Do we have any idea?

    No, I don't expect you to have the answers to these questions, but I sure hope someone is asking them. Any ideas?

    What happened years ago with the Hawthorne Crossing Strip Mall is just too fresh in my mind. The neighborhood didn't ask enough questions and believed what the developer was suggesting to us but didn't actually commit to. In the end we got EXACTLY what we DIDN'T want and by that time there was nothing to be done. We were stuck. I don't like making the same mistakes twice.

  5. I can't imagine why anyone is even considering letting a new liquor store, of any type, open up on Broadway. It's hard to imagine any development decision that would be more counterproductive, or more at odds with the long-term revitalization of NoMi. We have to learn to stop drooling every time anyone even appears to be reaching for their wallet.

  6. That person reaching into their wallet has a name. His name is Harry and he is in Your pocket.He will be picking the air pockets in your collective heads and you won't realize that it even occured. Harry has special rules and follows them dilligently.Harry is Big Brother dressed in disguise to thwart any encroachment into his already made-up mind.There will be a liquor store because Harry wants a liquor store and do not forget that Harry is in all of your pockets when it comes to the abuses and ravages of alcohol. Build it and they will come at any price with an infinite sum. There is but one step from the ridiculous to the sublime as the shallow murmur and the deep are dumb.

  7. Should we insist on a medical marijuana clinic for the site boathead, or do you have that one covered already?

  8. I will have to assume,Folwell Fux,that you understand that a bird is smitten with pipes that imitate their own voices. You still with me? Good,because the bitch has an itch and all of her neighbors know. Anyhow, men also are smitten with sentiments that are most ageeable with their own. To take lightly the sorrow and tragedy of the pain that alcohol causes and the emotional and physical scars that come with it is disappointing. You make light of the fact that i may or may not indulge in a little cannabis consumption every now and then so i will assume that you have drinken Janitor in a Drum straight out of the fucking bottle. Cheers,Slimeball, i hope you get your wish.

  9. I'm still with 'ya boathead, but are you still with yourself? I see you have decided on your appropriate poison, and that's okay. I miss it terribly. I also hear what you're saying regarding yet another booze source in North and you do have a point. What do you want instead? After all this is B.J.'s we're talking about. I would also take you a tad more seriously if you quit quoting English proverb. I've read Samuel Butler too. And to mix that with further insults, you just come off as an ass. So Sir, I wish YOU luck, you need it more than me apparently.

  10. Whoever you are, you are a TAD presumptuous. I am not the ass here since i was just using the Harry in your Pocket as an analogy and it was actually the name of a movie about a pickpocket. I was hoping you would Google that, Fallwell Fux, like you had the ingenuity to Google a phrase or the obvious aphorisms that i use now and then. You say you read Samuel Butler and i will tell you i do not give a fuck how much you lie about what you read when these days all you have to do is Google up shit to assist you in your endeavors.You were the smart(?) ass when you suggested a Medicinal Marijuana clinic, I guess you know more than the hundred of thousands that swear it alleviates their pain while going through Chemotherapy or other painful treatments while battling for their respective lives.You are the ASS here, considering that a beautiful mother and her two beautiful children were killed a mere block or two away from where you want your choice of poison store with the poison you are advocating. Any sensible person sees who the ass is and you owe an apology to that family. Good Day.

  11. No need to get angry boathead. I'm usually just an ass to sex offenders and thugs.

    I'm a big advocate of medical marijuana. After reading your initial post I felt as though you would appreciate a "pot shop" close by (it was supposed to be funny). However, assuming that you do not have a terminal illness, I can now see that you would never consider taking advantage of medical marijuana for your own purposes and risk putting such a noble cause into further jeopardy.

    Yes, that was a sad event on Broadway. I don't know if Rufus's toxicology results are in yet though, I'm too lazy to Google it. However, I'm inclined to believe that there may have been some other issues in play as well resulting in that crash other than solely chemically impaired driving.

    Also, it is customary in any style of writing, including blog posts, to use in-text citations and quotation marks around direct quotes and paraphrases as not to plagiarize. Maybe you don't need it for that movie reference. Sounds like it was a horrible 70's B-lister that nobody saw anyways. But for historical works, which anyone who has taken a 100 series LIT class can recognize, it might be a good idea.

  12. I believe in everyday simple living, asshole. Any certain individuals intelligence should be used in situations where, let's say for instance, that you may want to know what time it is. I understand that you are an English Major and probably a Major prick. Reality is a meaningless accumulation of unrelated events made preposterous by mans futile attempt to define it or give it order. Am i turning in a book report to you, fuckface? Did i plagiarize anything? Any sorry fool,you qualify,bitch, can distinguish between an original and a "QUOTE" from another source.You with me professor? Proofread my shit,genius,and then go crawl back to your element because i notice you stepping out of it alot. Historical works? Are you talking about our Euro-centric history books that lie with impunity and besmirch the truth? B-lister? Too lazy to look it up? I am sure you are lying through your fucking teeth..i know your type as i have been around and your game is at the Minor league level,kid. I realize that you think otherwise, but please remember that you are in the public spectrum because you choose to be and we are judged by the choices we make. Who did i plagiarize that from, Dink?

  13. You're right boathead. If we all only shared your intellectual prowess and superior communication skills, the "powers that be" would find it futile to build another liquor store in North and surely opt for something more erudite.

  14. You got my point, junior, i'm through talking....doesn't mean you have to be; just step out from behind the dress when you do it next time. Your case is closed.


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