Developing the Crossings area along Hwy 3 in Northfield has been a very long project with many setbacks, not the least of which was the recession. Now with the Fairfield Inn rising quickly, more development has been in the works. But it fell apart last night. Chris Kennelly and Scott Koester of Rebound Development Partners, went before the Planning commission with their plan for a Starbucks drive thru on the small irregular shaped lot on the corner at 2nd street. With much vetting from City staff, the project came to the Planning
Commission for 6 variances. Kennelly said traffic counts from MnDot indicate Hwy 3 sees 11,700 vehicles per day and 2nd Street sees 7400 per day, “making it a very busy stretch of road”. They’ve been marketing the site, reaching out through multiple channels with some interest from a sandwich shop, 3 coffee shops and a donut shop, all of which wanted a drive thru. They went through numerous iterations to create the design, spoke with the condo owners and businesses, including Brick Oven Bakery who was not opposed to the project. Kennelly pointed out the design meets all the City’s requirements for stormwater and greenspace, provides sidewalk connections and bike racks for users and an outdoor patio. During open comment, the only person to speak against the project was Joan Spaulding, owner of The Hideaway, said, “as a downtown coffee house owner, it is of great concern that the City is looking at adding an additional commercial multi-billion dollar franchise to directly compete against the local coffeehouses”. There were 6 who spoke in favor of the project including Rick Estenson who noted that his bank, First National, has nothing to do with the project. He said, “I think we have long been a community that needs to work on working with businesses to bring them to town. I look at the reasonableness of the variances being asked here and, while at the same time a big proponent of the small businesses, like Joan’s that exist here in this town, I think it’s important for us to realize that it takes all sorts of businesses to make this community work”. But in the end, it didn’t matter, all members of the Planning Commission voted to deny the variances having concerns over pedestrians and bicyclists. Member Will Schroeer motioned for denial. He added, “my read of the LDC and the vision of what we want our gateway to look like, as a community that elected officials have spent a lot of time working on and discussing and ultimately adopting, does use words like gateway and special and unique and not generic”. Chair Joe Gasior had issue with the drive-through itself. A drive thru coffee shop is going in where the new Farmers Bank is going in at hwy 3 and Clinton Ln. That will be operated by Spaulding’s daughter. Link to Planning Commission materials and additional documents. PUD amendment memo. 2 – Site Plan
Another downtown storefront closing and SWAG owner is excited for her next adventure
Yet another downtown business is closing. High Noon Ink will close it’s doors at the end of May. I spoke with owner Corrie Erickson who said that, due to rising rental costs downtown and Corrie’s personal health issues, he’s decided, after 8 years, to close shop. A talented artist, Erickson will focus on his illustration and graphic design.
I also spoke with Mary Closner of Swag, who is in the process of closing. She said she’s very excited for her next adventure. Her mom, Maxine, is ready to retire at 92. Closner said 14 years of retail is a great run and their success at Swag is a great springboard for next career. She’s not sad about closing the store but will miss the customers. Tagg 2 is closing and Spare Room will not have a retail front, they’ll be in a studio.
DJJD awards student scholarships
The Defeat of Jesse James Days committee awarded two $500 Scholarships to 2 Northfield High School Seniors this week. Qualifications include post secondary education, community
involvement and future education goals. Applicants provided letters of recommendation from an organization they volunteered for and from a school administrator, counselor or teacher. They also wrote a brief essay on how the Defeat of Jesse James Days celebration has impacted our community AND them specifically. The two recipients are Alexis Dougherty, and Jessica Labenski. The dollars will be placed in a fund for specific educational uses next Fall.
PEHS holds fundraiser tomorrow!
Prairies Edge Humane Society is holding their annual dinner and auction tomorrow at the Northfield Ballroom after having to cancel last week due to the “historic” snowfall! Find out more on prairiesedgehs.org.