A Caribou Coffee and a burger joint are poised to become the next additions to Lyndale Station, as Richfield’s new city center at the corner of Lyndale Avenue and West 66th Street continues taking shape.
The Richfield Planning Commission unanimously recommended the approval of changes to Wellington Management’s development plans during a Monday, Aug. 11, meeting. Those plans include outlets that are part of the long-awaited “phase II” portion of the Lyndale Station commercial center.
The Richfield City Council is expected to consider final approval for the plans Tuesday, Aug. 26.
The new building will sit on the southwest corner of the property, displacing the spire-like sculpture called “The Family.” That feature will be moved just to the north of the new building.
The plans come as Lyndale Gardens, the commercial and quasi-public space at Lyndale Avenue and West 64th Street, continues to develop, with recent openings in the area including Lakewinds Natural Foods and Lyn 65 Kitchen & Bar. Richfield’s comprehensive plan tabs the area surrounding Lyndale Avenue and 66th Street as the city’s center of commerce, a staff report notes.
The Caribou Coffee arrives about a year and a half after another Caribou shop, located across the intersection, closed its doors. That shop, situated on the bottom floor of the City Bella high-rise, faced a number of disadvantages, according to Jeff Wurst, vice president of real estate for Caribou.
“It was closed due to lack of business,” Wurst said.
Parking at the location was limited and it lacked adjacent retail outlets that would drive business to the store, he added.
Joining the new Caribou, MyBurger is a Minneapolis-based chain founded in 2004, currently with three locations – in Minneapolis’ Uptown, downtown and the University of Minnesota’s Stadium Village.
The planning commission welcomed the burger restaurant about 11 months after it rejected the second of two proposals from its giant competitor, McDonald’s, which sought a location across town at Cedar Point Commons.
The city turned back the McDonald’s restaurant for a host of reasons that included aesthetics, but also that it did not fit aspirations for a sit-down style restaurant at the eastern Richfield location.
Aside from some questions regarding the coffee shop’s drive-thru and traffic flow issues, plans for MyBurger and Caribou, on the other hand, faced little skepticism from the planning commission last week.
“I’m glad to see it happening, to tell you the truth,” Commissioner Susan Rosenberg said. “This looks like a really good thing for Richfield.”
One audience member, however, had hoped for something different.
“You know, Richfield needs something besides burger and pizza joints,” said Elaine Olson, who lives in the Oaks complex across 66th Street.
At the same time, Olson said she was thankful for the opening of Lyn 65 Kitchen & Bar, a new independent restaurant located one block north of Lyndale Station.
Refocusing on Lyndale Station, Olson was also concerned about odors coming from the structure housing trash receptacles. However, City Planner Melissa Poehlman assured her that the trash structure, which will be attached to a bus shelter, will be on the north side of the building housing Caribou and MyBurger. It will feature a stack to allow odors to escape the area and will be disguised, Poehlman said.
“From many sides of the building you won’t realize what it is,” she said.
Additionally, a “pocket park” is planned to be established adjacent to the bus shelter and trash building, Poehlman said. The plaza-like area is planned to serve as the new home for “The Family” sculpture, which would be displaced by outdoor seating.
Rosenberg was glad to see the sculpture salvaged after its future seemed uncertain.
“Believe it or not, there was a lot of controversy about it,” she said, noticing some were not keen on its aesthetic value.
“There’s been some talk about keeping it, not keeping it,” she said, “so I’m glad it’s there.”
Another concern of neighbors is the noise produced by the new restaurant. Explaining his worries, a resident of City Bella cited disruption caused by intoxicated patrons of the Champps across the street.
Although MyBurger will apply for a license to sell beer and wine, “this is not a bar like Champps,” Poehlman said. “I don’t expect the same type of traffic at this restaurant as you get at Champps.”
In addition to the coffee shop and burger restaurant, four or five more tenants could arrive at the building, according to David Bergstrom, chief operating officer for Wellington Management. Although the leases have not yet been signed, those potential businesses could include a hair salon, a small electronics store and a dental office, Bergstrom said.
Commissioner Gordon Vizecky took it as an encouraging sign that Lyndale Station is beginning to approach full occupancy. Since LA Fitness and a multi-tenant commercial building were built on the property in fall 2012, the southwest corner of the land has remained vacant. Vizecky sees the arrival of tenants for that portion of the property as “a sign of economic recovery.”
Contact Andrew Wig at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @RISunCurrent.