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    Lunds Eyeing 'Urban Village' for Downtown Minneapolis

    MINNEAPOLIS -- With anticipation building among city dwellers here for a new downtown Lunds store, local news reports say Lund Food Holdings is negotiating to buy its third building, which would bring the development closer to what company officials have referred to as a "European-style" urban village.

    MINNEAPOLIS -- With anticipation building among city dwellers here for a new downtown Lunds store, local news reports say Lund Food Holdings is negotiating to buy its third building, which would bring the development closer to what company officials have referred to as a "European-style" urban village.

    As happens often with inner city commercial development projects, Lunds reportedly is also contending with concerns from some nearby residents about impacts from such a major project. But local observers expect the grocer to be able to navigate the urban political landscape successfully.

    If plans proceed, the grocery store -- to be located in the former World Wide Pictures building, which was part of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association headquarters at 12th & Hennepin in the Minneapolis Central Business District --will serve as the anchor of the village.

    The addition of a third building at 13th & Harmon Place, according to the local Skyway News, would pave the way for other establishments to join with Lunds, possibly including the family-run grocer's current corporate partners Caribou Coffee, PrairieStone Pharmacy, and Minneapolis Floral.

    While local consensus for the project overwhelmingly supports the concept of a new full-service urban grocery store, some residents have expressed concerns about how the ever-growing site will affect life on the block -- specifically with regard to increased traffic and noise.

    On May 23, the regional land use committee voted to support Lunds' 53-spot surface lot and permit for 24-hour operation. John Pazahanick, s.v.p. of business development and brand management for the family-held grocery company, told the local press Lunds has been meeting with residents to discuss and respond to concerns.

    One local veteran Twin Cities developer quoted in the article called Lunds' plan for an urban village "the missing anchor in the Hennepin Avenue shopping district. I think Lunds is literally one if the more exciting things that's happened in downtown in the last 50 years."

    While sensitive to the residents' concerns, the developer said he was confident that Lunds, "an experienced grocer and developer," would resolve any potential issues.

    In early May, Lunds said it was in the process of obtaining necessary local approvals for a two-store strategy for downtown Minneapolis, announced last November.

    The second pending store location is expected to replace the current Rick's Market site at 313 Central Ave. Southeast. The conversion plans for that location are part of a larger redevelopment effort with Exeter Realty Co., that will include a mix of residential and retail use.

    The retailer is working with DJR Architecture Inc. to finalize design plans for the locations, which will be similar to other Lunds stores that emphasize perishables, meal solutions and grab-and-go options.

    Lund Food Holdings, Inc., based in Edina, operates eight Lunds, 12 Byerly's and three Rick's Markets in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas.

    --Meg Major

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