May 21, 2009
Dollar store proposal on Washington Ave. sent back to committee
The Common Council voted unanimously Tuesday send a proposal for a dollar store at 1130 Washington Ave. back to the Redevelopment Authority for further review.
The RDA had voted to grant Minneapolis-based developer Abdo Markethouse a 90-day option to buy the land near Tino's for $70,000. The developer wants to build a 9,180 square-foot Family Dollar with 4,900 square-feet of additional retail space. (Read the proposal here.)
But the plan failed to pass the full Common Council. Alderman Jeff Coe motioned to send the proposal back to the RDA, which will reconsider the development at its June 3 meeting. The RDA voted 5-0 at its May meeting to grant Abdo Markethouse an option on the land.
Jim Puma, the owner of Puma's Custom Cycles Inc., which is across the street from the proposed development site at 1129 Washington Ave., said he opposes the dollar store.
"A better choice can be made to utilize a great piece of land for the future of midtown," said Puma, referring to the area just north of Uptown. "This a great opportunity. It shouldn't be wasted on a strip mall."
The use of 1130 Washington Ave. is an early test for new Mayor John Dickert. In an interview during the campaign, Dickert said one of the strengths he'd bring to the job was his understanding of real estate. He criticized city officials for supporting developments that may not have been in the city's best interests.
“The biggest problem we had is the former mayor didn’t understand real estate,” Dickert said in April. “Just because a developer comes in doesn’t mean it’s a good thing.”
Puma said the city shouldn't be in any rush to use the vacant land in the 1100 block of Washington Ave, which is the site of the former Schaefer Pontiac. The Schaefer family donated the land, five lots in all, to the city.
The parcel could be a unifying site between Downtown and Uptown, if used correctly, Puma said.
"It doesn't cost them (city officials) a dime to get the right people in," he said. "They can wait. Time is on their side."
The Family Dollar proposal is the third time the RDA has given a developer permission to buy the land. Two gas stations proposed for the site, both by local developers, fell through before they settled on Abdo Markethouse's plan.
Notebook Dump: Leftover notes for this story
Puma said business was slow for the American V-Twin motorcycles he sells. "The economy is affecting us all," he said.
One pitch for anyone interested in motorcycles: They're good for the environment, Puma said. They use fewer materials than cars and get high gas mileage. The high-performance V-Twin gets 35 miles-per-gallon, while some scooters Puma sells get up to 100 mpg.
"Any motorcycle is environmentally sound," Puma said. "Plus, they're a whole lot of fun."