Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Plans for the Northside Food Market

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, images from submissions to the city of Minneapolis, originally appeared on the McKinley Neighbors Unite! Facebook page.

Just as neighbors near 36th and Lyndale were getting used to their new found peace and quiet, the owner of the Northside Food Market decided to apply for a new building permit.  The move doesn't come as much of a surprise; at the first 3rd Ward Care meeting after demolition, Council member Hofstede informed community members that this was the owner's intention.

The basic course that we were told to expect was that the city would allow the owner to put the building up but then be very picky about the conditions under which it would get its business license.  That seemed like a nonsensical move that would just lead to another unnecessarily empty building in the northside, until one realizes that...

...there are different processes in place for building permits and business licenses.  The owners can build whatever they like as long as it complies with building and zoning codes, and the designs appear to meet those requirements.  The business licensing process allows for more community input and city council discretion.

With that in mind, I have to say the building design itself looks at least acceptable--maybe even pretty good.  I especially like the presence of large windows on the front facade, and the absence of a rental unit.  It's when we get to the business license aspect that things might become problematic.

Certainly there will be some people who would advocate for a license to be refused no matter what the terms are.  And the owners of the business have had a poor enough track record that frankly such a decision from the city council could be warranted.  But if a license is granted, what kinds of conditions could we set?

First, one commenter on the McKinley site said that the store is small enough to prohibit a grocer's license.  Only a confectioner's license is viable here.  That would mean sandwiches could be sold but not loaves of bread, single servings of tuna or crackers are okay, but not a can of tuna and a box of crackers.  And so on, except for tobacco products, which they would most likely try to sell in packs and in single-issue cigarillos.  The frustrating part here is that I think we would want them to sell loaves of bread instead of unhealthy Deli Express pre-wrapped sandwiches that were made during the Eisenhower administration and won't expire for another fifty years.

If we don't get some kind of requirement for real participation in a healthy corner store initiative, then the closest thing to a balanced meal here will be Flamin' Hot Cheetos, Oscar Mayer Lunchables, and Honey Buns for desert.

The other requirement I hope we can get is that the owners set aside funds and commit to police buyback hours to beef up security.  If they can't afford to adequately control behavior at their property, then the community can't afford to have them back in business.


  1. Oh, my word. Just when you think you've gotten rid of unsightly mushrooms, some dog takes a crap, it rains, and up pop the mushrooms again.

  2. I think stocking healthy items should be a requirement. What about a healthy foods escrow being required. The neighborhood association or city could review purchase records monthly. This would ensure that the minimum levels of healthful items like vegitables and fruits are purchased. Once those levels are met the owner could stock other items even those flaming cheetos. I would also prohibit the sale of long white T-shirts and no cell phones or pagers.

  3. Rather than micromanage, I think it's better to just not allow the current owners to get a business license, given their record. They had their chance, they created a horror story...

    No sense allowing the horror story to spawn a sequel.

  4. Maybe the thing to do is to make them "think" they can have a license. Build a nice commercial building and then deny that license. This way they have to sell to a reputable party who can operate a store stocking healthy items.


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