Wednesday, August 6, 2014

3 North Minneapolis Liquor Establishments From an Alternate Universe

We know what you're thinking. "But the problems!! The Northside has so many problems!!" Well, allow us to magically whisk you away to a nearby future (we're thinking positive) in which violence has ceased, slumlords have been eliminated, and jobs are on the rise. Northsiders want to go out somewhere close and they want options. They want a place that caters to their specific interests, without having to leave their neighborhood to spend their money. Enter: The Northside of the Future. Where, in addition to the current favorites like Cliff N' Norms, 4th Street Saloon, Camden Tavern, and Tooties- people can also find themselves in a gay sports bar, a rooftop brew house, or a really elegant nightclub. So free your mind of all the worry that comes along with having a lack of imagination, and join us in this vision of what our community could look like if we started having fun.    

5 Points

Brewery and Rooftop Taproom

With some of the planned development going on in North Minneapolis, let's imagine what things might look like 10-20 years from now.  
You're imagining too much

With a reduced crime rate and economic growth spurred by the jobs created and provided by new additions to transportation such as the Blue Line Extension and the connecting Bus Rapid Transit along Penn Ave N and West Broadway street cars, the five points corner of Penn and Broadway  is now one of the focal intersections in North Minneapolis.

The intersection isn't the only thing to evolve at this corner though- long time corner resident B-L-O (Broadway Liquor Outlet), with humble beginnings as a neighborhood liquor store, also experienced a metamorphosis after the 2011 tornado.

After the Northside cyclone, the 5 points corner took heavy damage, eventually knocking down the historic location of BLO and its adjacent neighbors running a restaurant out of an old fast food venue. Soon after, a proposal for the development of the "Broadway Flats" emerged, consisting of retail stores located on the main level with low to medium income level housing up above.
BLO would be the development's main anchor.

"Rose, a third-generation liquor store owner in the neighborhood, says the tornado created a unique opportunity to expand our concept beyond just our store; to look at how we redevelop Penn and Broadway from the mass devastation that happened from the tornado.”

Read more:
The controversial beginnings of the Broadway Flats were spurned due to having a liquor store located in close proximity to "low" income housing. Split public opinion of the project led to trading in the original concept of a "liquor store" in favor of something more community orientated as the centerpiece.

"We want more, we want different" was a typical public outcry. "We want a variety of places to spend our money, not just your typical beauty shop/fried food/dollar store variety.
We want coffee shops,boutiques and workout facilities.

With the popularity of craft beers and the recent success of other local NoMi breweries, what if BLO stepped out of its shell to address the need of a neighborhood bar on the western end of Broadway?

These are just some ideas and images of what that corner might look like if BLO delivered that dream.

.....I don't know about all of you but I want to hang out at this place. RIGHT.NOW.



a gay sports bar

"The Plug"
 3201 N 3rd Street

Paying homage to its historic roots as a streetcar power station, Sparkplug's addresses the need for a LGBT friendly hangout spot.

Minneapolis- being one of the gayest towns ever- has its share of gay night clubs and bars throughout the city. Why not North Minneapolis, too?
Even in this day and age, investors must be too blinded by the violence in North Minneapolis to notice the obvious growth, needs, and money of the NoMi gay community.

As of right now, I don't know if the Northside is ready to come out the closet and support a openly gay establishment, but we're not discussing the "now," we're talking about the future, ladies and gentlemen.

Why a gay sports bar? THIS is why.
How is Minneapolis not on this list, yo?

When you think of gay bars, you usually think of loud thumping music,crowded dance floors and maybe a drag show here and there.
Sausagefest 2025

Sparkplug's, however, is more geared toward the game-watching, buffalo-wing-eating, bloody mary-drinkin' variety of gay (or straight) patron.

....and by Bloody Mary we mean Brunch-y Mary

Also, let's not forget that gays like sports, too! Even though male professional sports are still extremely heterosexually based, we're entering the age of our first openly gay professional male athletes!

I think he plays tight end

Let's talk location for a second. 
This establishment on 3201 N 3rd Street and sits directly on Lowry avenue, overlooking the beautiful new Lowry bridge that was just recently lit in the colors of the rainbow to celebrate Minneapolis Pride.

Photo by Phillip Murphy
("Here's the bar" and adjacent arrow by Will Lumpkins)

 Just on the other side of the river, Leslie Brock plans to open yet another impressive looking establishment at Pyscho Suzie's former location called Betty Danger's Country Club complete with Ferris wheel and Mini-golf course. Isn't it about time we played a little catch up on our side of the river?

However, the proximity to our neighbors on the Northeast side is a nice element for this bar. Northeast also has a burgeoning and established gay community.
Transportation-wise, the building has a decent sized parking lot for late night tailgating and it's also located on and near two bike commuting routes, so stopping by for a quick one on the way home from downtown is also an option. Bus access is available for the mass transit crowd and patrons from afar can find and access it easily (and safely) by automobile from the two convenient freeway entrances.

...but don't drink and drive yo!
Pic curtsy of Google Maps

Gnolo central
I know this entry had some jokes but I'm dead serious- this needs to happen in NoMI!

The Mercury Club

and Ballroom

As mentioned earlier in this post, this future of West Broadway is bright with development projects. The new Satori development, which occupies the current Hawthorn Crossing area in 2020, is a compromise between developers and residents that opposed the destruction of the blighted yet historic remnants of West Broadway between Bryant and Emerson (Satori's original proposed location).

I can dig it....across the street

Another portion of the compromise between developers and residents is also the rehabilitation of these storefront facades in conjunction with the city's Facade Improvement Matching Grants.

Picture borrowed from City of Mpls facade Design Guide

The long-needed improvements and historic designation of the properties on the southern side of West Broadway is also a determining factor that encourages business growth for the new population.

Picture borrowed from City of Mpls facade Design Guide
Realizing that no one would want to buy a new condo only to gaze across the street at an outdated strip-mall, Satori developers settle on the more sensible option of building on the north side of the avenue.
"Satori," as imagined on the north side of West Broadway
design property of Pinnacle Management LLC

New expensive residential: check. New historic business nodes: check.

Now let's build rehab a place for fun!
Just so happens there's a HUGE classic building right down the street on Aldrich at
800 West Broadway.

In 1925, construction was completed and Sullivan Motor Company opened on 800 West Broadway. Over the next 90 years the building would experience multiple changes in ownership. Most notably the Lincoln/Mercury car dealership from whence it would inherit its current name.
It was almost "The Comet Club" 

The Mercury Club arose due to other new developments along Broadway inspiring a need for a large-venue "3rd destination."

The Mercury Club
and ballroom
Could you imagine?
(Rendition by Alicia Holder)

With an elegant street level bar and lounge area and 2nd level ballroom, The Mercury Club not only caters to the new "buppie"and "blipster" generation of Northsiders but also addresses the need for a historic small area event center for the neighborhood.

 Local event planners and promoters no longer needed to book downtown or suburban hotels for galas and suit and tie soirees.
Non-profits are now able to throw their annual benefit dinners without leaving the confines of the communities they serve.

Local and small national musicians are also known to frequent the establishment from time to time, bringing additional culture and nightlife to the new West Broadway.
lol j/k
...but serious
That's more like it

The Mercury Club and Ballroom- an elegant establishment on the Northside for the grown and sexy, a place to vibe to some jazz or eat a fancy meal at one of Sammy's famous dinner parties.

North Minneapolis- let's take charge of our future!
Some people out there are accusing Northsiders of not having any vision. Articles are being published in the dead of the night, essentially describing our empty storefronts as all-but-hopeless shells of brick that no one could hope to care about seeing demolished. They're being pretty presumptuous. North Minneapolis is home to some of the most creative and artistic minds in this city. Implying that we don't have vision is like saying Prince isn't fucking awesome.


But let's not hold our collective breaths waiting for the media to come to us asking for our ideas on what we'd like to see happen with our fair side of town. Instead, let's take initiative by collaborating and networking with one another and using our many individual talents to present the reasonable alternatives and compromises to any future plans that are thrown our way (and by "thrown," I mean "covertly reported on in a way so subtle that one really must be careful to keep an eye out or they'll miss it"). In other words, let's not keep letting every Tom Dick and Harry with a fat open wallet- who has never lived, visited, or invested in the Northside- come here to tell us about whatever new "great opportunity" they have for us in the form of a building that has more of a risk for failing than would their same investment had it been put toward rehabbing one of the many beautiful historic buildings we have to offer.
Simply put- old architecture is of an aesthetic and structural quality that you simply do not see anymore. It adds charm to any area, and if we put some actual time and attention into the buildings we already have, then we might start seeing the Northside for what it has the potential to be in the future.

Hope you enjoyed our fun little vision!

leave a comment/share/like..get the word out!

Monday, July 7, 2014

9 Great Locations for Another Northside Bikeshop!

Did you know:
North Minneapolis's first bike path was completed around 1900? It ran from Plymouth Avenue N. to the south all the way up to 44th & Lyndale to the north along Washington and 2nd Avenues  (a present-day bike path follows the same corridor). Early construction of bike paths in Minneapolis usually followed popular roads of the time and ran along the roadway boulevards. The bike path along Washington consisted of rolled cinders which I imagine helped tremendously as the roads were notoriously muddy in those days *According to The Minneapolis Bicycle Master Plan, around the turn of the century Minneapolis had 43.5 miles of bike paths.
Proposed Northside Greenway
Fast forward 110 years and we (Northsiders) are in the midst of a citywide bicycle boom.   Minneapolis has 92 miles of on-street bikeways and 85 miles of off-street bikeways and a plan to add a 4 mile long greenway through the heart of North Minneapolis is at the forefront of additions for the future.

With all these new ideas for biking in North Minneapolis, how do we plan to service all the new cyclists that are sure to spring up as a result of our improved biking infrastructure? As of July 2014 we have but ONE bike shop servicing the entirety of the 

Open Shop @ Venture North

I love Venture North Bike Shop- it has great staff, great programs, the coffee is decent, it's just an over-all great establishment for the Northside. With that being said, I only have one gripe. It's all the fuck the way down in Harrison neighborhood! I grew up in Lind Bohannon which just happens to be at the opposite end of the Northside. Even in those days Camden lacked a bike shop. I know there is some history behind the origin of Venture North and how it ended up in the low end- it goes something like: Once upon a time, there were funds for a Northside bike shop. It came down to a few contestants with two locations. Redeemer- who have did wonderful things down in Harrison, and Major Taylor Bike Club- the predominantly African American bicycle club in the Twin Cities. Redeemer was bidding for the shop in the historically black neighborhood of Harrison, where some of the first African American families found housing in the early 20th century.  Major Taylor, from what I understand, had a more central location in mind somewhere near Lowry & Penn. When the smoke cleared, Redeemer were the victors and now we have a great thriving local bike shop entering its third year. Here's the thing though: Venture North now has set the tone for a second shop servicing a greater portion of NoMi and as a frequent cyclist among our side of the city, I can attest to the need.

Every time I get to talking bikes among peers outside of North Minneapolis, the same question arises. "Do you guys have a bike shop over there yet?" In my head I'm like "Wtf? I told you last time about Venture North!" I get it, though. Our sole bike shop lacks one major attribute. Presence.  "Where would a good spot be, Will?" I'm glad you asked! Check out the list and leave comments on how you feel. Would it work? Where would you suggest?

These properties appear in no particular order of significance


2211 37th Ave N

Great Looking Building!

Located  in Cleavland at the end of the 37th Ave Greenway. This location would service Penn Ave residents and could coincide with the numerous slated improvements including the new BRT.
The need for a shop north of Lowry Ave is obvious.This would serve as a great location for the Northwestern residents of North Minneapolis.
With the two robust garage doors, I envision a wonderful open air bike/coffee lounge.


Lot Size 1,710
Building Area: 1581

Victory Memorial Drive
37th Ave Greenway
Folwell Park
Proposed Northside Greenway

Click the link below for more info
Property Info

3701 Penn N

Let's diversify our storefronts!

3701 Penn is literally across the street from the last entry.
What I like about both these locations is that my personal vision is for one to either be a coffee shop or bike shop (they go hand in hand).

This location doesn't quite have the charm of its brethren but it does have one important feature the other does not. Parking. Being able to ride up to your local bike shop is certainly a draw, but it doesn't always work out that way! Flats, broken chains and wonky shifters often require loading your bike into a vehicle for the trek to the shop.

Ample Parking

A little history:
years ago, this was a quaint little neighborhood grocery store. It was recently cleaned up and put on the market.

It's for sale

Lot Size 5,042
Building Area: 1836 + Basement

Victory Memorial Drive
37th Ave Greenway
Folwell Park
Proposed Northside Greenway

Click the link below for more info

Property Info

3855 Thomas 

Today: a crappy vacant storefront

3 words: Victory Memorial Drive
2 MORE words: Grand Rounds
Last word: Money

Everyone in NoMi knows that the Victory Neighborhood is like the Hamptons of North Minneapolis.

The houses are usually well kept. The neighborhood is quiet and generally less violent than its surrounding neighborhoods and they have money AND ride bikes.
Seems like a slam dunk, huh? 
For some reason Victory has its fair share of vacant buildings, too. That has always struck me as odd because Victory seems like the ideal location for a Mom and Pop small business.

Work in the front/live in the back

a peek inside at the rehab
Back on topic- a bike shop in this building works because of the elephant in the room; the scenic Grand Rounds portion of Victory Memorial.  Whether a jump-off point to start your winter commute or an end destination after a long summer ride with the family, a neighborhood bike shop in this spot is a Victory for everyone.

Lot Size: 5,363

Near: Victory Memorial
42nd Ave Bikeway
Dowling Ave Bikeway

Click the link below for more info
This storefront needs some business

This corner store met the chopping block due to selling tobacco products and its proximity to Henry High. In this scenario, proximity to Henry is a plus!
Introducing bike culture to our population of young adults is vital for North Minneapolis.
Since my younger days, bikes have always been a means of transportation and also one of the first "freedoms" that allowed me to explore beyond my immediate city block. Somewhere around 
11th grade, that mentality and interest switched to cars. Cars were expensive, cool and full of status. Bikes were viewed as poor, lame, and something "other"  people did. This still seems to be the prevailing consensus on the Northside, though other schools of the city have embraced city biking.

With obesity on the rise among children and the current health disparities between NoMi and the rest of the city, we must promote healthy living, exercise and a change in mentality to combat these statistics.
A visible bike shop near a prominent Northside school is a great move. Add in the fact that the proximity of this location to Victory Memorial Parkway, the proposed Humboldt Greenway, the newly renovated Webber Park and first-of-its-kind natural pool, the future Camden community library, Shingle Creek trails, 42nd ave bikeway, Henry High school, Victory 44, The Warren, even Loring Elementary (start'em young)!
Pic courtesy of Google Maps(2010)
A bike shop in Webber- Camden could turn out to be a great investment.

Lot Size:


Click the link below for more info
Property Info

1315 26th Ave N
"owned by Cped"
Pic courtesy of Google Maps
"The Crossroads"

Everyone knows the first three rules of real estate:
Location, Location, Location

This site sits at a very important future crossroads for North Minneapolis.
North/south you have the proposed Humboldt Greenway.
East/West you have the 26th ave. Greenway that is slated for construction in the very near future.
(as of 7/7/2014)

Here at the confluence, there's an opportunity to build a bike shop from the ground up to service both major greenways and the Jordan neighborhood as a whole.
If you've ever been on the Midtown greenway in South Minneapolis, then you probably have experienced the joy of Freewheel Bike Shop. It's presence on the Midtown could easily be duplicated when these two Northside greenways are completed.
Factor in the closeness of the Boys & Girls club, North Star school (is it still called that?), Hmong International school, Jordan park/school and even Farview; all a short ride away. The popular Fremont Ave. commuter route is a mere 4 blocks to the east also!

Alternative location one block east

Lot size: 5,010

Future Greenways
Jordan/Farview Park
Boy's and Girls Club

Click the link below for more info
Property Info 

2425 West Broadway
Retro bike shop?

I'm a little bias for this location because for years I thought it was such a cool-looking building with its mid- century modern car port.
When ever I think of a Northside bike/coffee shop, I always come back to this location.
I often refer to this corner as "the other" 5 points on Broadway, located right up the street from the original intersection of Penn and Broadway.
Catching 26th ave. greenway traffic going to and fro for Theodore Wirth Parkway is a gimme and who knows, maybe one day West Broadway will get its shit together and become the location destination it should be- replicating Lake Street on the southside.
Bike parking along Broadway would be a start in the right direction to encourage ridership.
Eliminating parking on one side and/or (GASP) adding parking meters to discourage prolonged parking would help to increase bike usage and foot traffic to the future shopping and eating establishments.
(Removing the fence around Hawthorne Crossings and encouraging people to park and shop the area would be nice).

Sorry, I'm getting off topic, but these are some things that need to happen to make West Broadway more pedestrian friendly and safe, which in turn would encourage business growth. Losing parking on Broadway sucks but nothing worth having ever came easy.
Back to the shop.
A retro throwback theme with ample bike parking could make this a trendy NoMi coffee hangout for Upper Willard-Hay and Jordan neighbors alike.

Lot Size: 11,650

26th Ave Greenway
Theodore Wirth/Victory Memorial
West Broadway/ 5 points

Click the link below for more info
Property Info

626 Lowry Ave N

It's the door under "Customer parking in rear"

Not 100% sure the exact address but this location is the storefront directly east of the Lowry Foods Market on the corner of Lowry and Lyndale.
I was in the market talking to the owner one day last month and noticed some laissez-faire construction going on in the back of the store.
The building owner informed me that he was converting the back most portion of the market that looks as if it was part of the adjacent storefront BACK to its original layout, giving said storefront back some added space. He also asked me if I knew any businesses that might be interested in moving in. He was thinking a deli. I was thinking Arbys bike shop.

Located right on the border of McKinley neighborhood and historic Hawthorne, it has the potential to service both Camden and Near North.
It's closeness to the river/Lowry bridge could also be a benefit once Above the Falls starts to creep north.
2nd Ave Bike/commuter is a few downhill blocks and Lowry in general is a great bikeway and lovely street overall.
Who knows, maybe our Northeast brethren might even frequent here and there.

Lot Size:6,052

Farview Park
Cityview school
Bikeways along:
26th ave
2nd Street
Fremont Ave

Click the link below for more info
Property Info


1408-10 West Broadway
One word: Patio

Coming in near my top spot for "Most Exposure" is the old "Choi's Auto" on West Broadway and the "Battery & Radiator" building next to it.

Located on the proposed Northside Greenway AND the busiest street in North Minneapolis, this location has the added benefit of being located near the old/new bakery on Broadway(I think), thus adding to the trifecta  of "the three B's"

As mentioned in a past blog post, this location also has great potential for a bike/coffee shop combo to service greenway traffic and West Broadway. The open air doors could add an element of coolness and community.

Cool new bike shop? Or this grey piece of crap.

Located by Jordan, Willard -Hay and most of Near North, these three neighborhoods should work together to make this happen for the community.  Co-op anyone?

Lot size:

Northside Greenway
West Broadway
North Commons Park
Boy's and Girl's club
North High

Click the link below for more info
Property Info


4350 Lyndale N
The old Top Diner

I was pondering a location for my hometown neighborhood of Lind-Bohannon because deep down, I believe it to be the most bike friendly neighborhood in NoMi. The North Mississippi Regional Park to the east is a 5-star location for biking. The scenic Mississippi river is so extremely rich in history for this neighborhood and NMRP along with the Kroening Center  magnify the experience. To the west is Shingle Creek and the parkway that connects Webber Park near the southern end with Shingle Creek park/Olson Jr High to the north along the existing Humboldt Greenway.
The proposed shop is located smack dab in the middle of the Camden Historic Lumber District and with new improvements coming  to this corridor of Lyndale, a new thriving bike shop here would be a fine addition.

Lot Size: 5,198

 Webber Park
Bohannon Park
North Mississippi Regional Park
Shingle Creek
Camden Historic Lumber District
Humboldt Greenway

Click the link below for more info

Property Info

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Top 15 Properties Adding Blight To West Broadway


200 Club/Good Sports
200 West Broadway
Who misses those wings?

You know, this neighborhood bar has major potential to go from a "Good" sports bar to a "GREAT" anchor for this district of liquor establishments.
It's not that its vacant, it's not that even though it's a sports bar, it still seems real dive-ish.
It's the vanilla-colored walls of the structure and the typical boring plum-looking awning.
This bar is in a premier location! It deserves to be gussied up, complete with throwback neon signage!

Fun Facts:
Built: 1950
County Taxable Value
Building: 284K Land: 60K
Total: 345K

Washington LLC
5661 International Parkway
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55428


Fish & Chicken

1127 West Broadway

Not a lot to see here. A quick fix of the tattered awning and some new paint could go a long way to improve this business' Broadway appeal.
I never understand why people choose red in their logo and facades, it's the fastest fading pigment color and is often the culprit of these once fancy and colorful schemes.
The parking LOT is the biggest eyesore of this property.  Rut with potholes, litter, and crappy landscaping, the overall vibe of the lot makes walking back to the car with meal in hand all the more sketchy.

Fun Facts:
Built: 1981
(Originally a part of the "Church's Chicken" fast food chain!)

County Taxable Value
Building: 127K Land: 92K

Burqa Properties
11651 88th Ave N
Maple Grove 55369

Absolute Tire and Wheel
220 West Broadway

Absolute Tyre
(I hate when people spell tire like that) 

I don't like criticizing open, thriving businesses, but one can not turn a blind eye to the blatant single coat of lime green paint used to cover the street-side facade of this building.
The lot is uninviting and confusing and I feel like they don't separate themselves from their competitors at Rusty's. Absolute should do more to promote their knack for working with high-priced rims and customs.
Like most used tire/rim shops, the disorganization and filth is the main turnoff. 

Fun Facts:
Built: 1943
County Taxable Value
Building: 333K Land: 301K
Total: 635K

Washington LLC
5661 International Parkway

1400 West Broadway

Ripped awning, boarded up windows, OWNED BY THE COUNTY...WTF!?

One would like to think that at a very basic level of government, the county could think of a way to connect to the community and come together to spruce up the damn front!
Take down the skeletal remains of the awning or repair it! It looks terrible! Address the wood boards with some basic art or something cool like this G.I.F.T.!

Fun Facts:
Built: 1929
County Taxable Value
Building: 60K Land: 20K
Total: 80K

Owner:Hennipen County Forfeiture Land

Golden Chicken Strip (lol)
2400-2404 Penn

Ahhhh, the memories of my parents bringing home a bucket of Golden Chicken after a night of bowling or something. I always looked forward to food from this Northside classic.
Truthfully though, keep the sign up for now or if it really must come down, then donate it to a local historian. Hint, hint. ;)
I digress,
WHAT the HELL is going on with the COLOR SCHEMES?
The owner needs to enforce a uniform palette or go ahead and open the windows up and bring some  GLASS and CLASS to this "point" that makes up the historic 5 points corner of Broadway and Penn.
With the new development coming across the street in coming months,  now is the prime time to clean up this corner's look and appeal!

Fun Facts:
Built: 1922
County Taxable Value
Building: 95K Land: 25K
Total: 120K

Owner:Keith Reitman

2339 Penn Ave N 
P.O.Box 11832
Minneapolis, Mn 55411

Old Detail Shop?
1521 & 1531 West Broadway

The faded blue metal awning wrapping the top half of this building is in hideous condition.
The WBC has this property listed on their website as available for lease/sale but with auto-related restrictions?
The sq.ft and over-all open area space of these two properties are impressive but it's hard to brainstorm a "non-auto" related business for this property.

The sun stained, flaky metal  "blight blue" P.O.S facade dominates the hard angle points of this corner even more then the bigger-than-life billboard of Q Bear.

In a pinch, I suppose you could power-wash the hell out the metal facade and spray a new coat but that's just a band-aid.
I'm quite certain that if a owner gave this a well-deserved makeover (I'm talking flat out removal of the metal top half, going back to the original brick) the building might attract new tenants looking hopefully for something cool, like...(I thought of something!) a local brewery with taproom service! ;)

Fun Facts:
Built: 1930
County Taxable Value

Building: 32K Land: 33K
Total: 65K

Building: 46K Land: 23K
Total: 70K
Owner:1521 W. Broadway Inc 
648 Iona Ln Roseville 55413

Shawn's on Broadway
& Flora's

921 & 925 West Broadway

"Shawn's on Broadway" appears to be one of the premier boutique fronts on Broadway, being both social and trendy in the early 90's.
As a young teen I remember making runs across the street to Tally Ho (a diner/restaurant) to pick up take out for patrons and beauticians alike.
The glory days of the past still represent  themselves in the stubborn fonts on this storefront facade. From there it gets worse. The windows appear to be covered on the inside with thick serial killer quality glad bags and the windows are riddled with streaks and cracks in the glass. The door is ALSO covered on the inside with creepy newspaper. It.Gets.Worse. The sidewalk entrance is chained off from the general public giving it a whole yellow tape crime scene sort of feel.
The "Flora" portion of the address' listed isn't nearly as blighted  as anything on this list. The lovely flower petal front is not an eyesore in the sense of design or aesthetics but, when you add it into the mix of Shawns,Jackson Hewitt,Olympic, Brix etc.. it gives an overall sloppy appeal to the string of small businesses. This stretch of commercial property on Broadway NEEDS something. A unifying theme? Maybe color? Maybe some cool retro light fixtures? Or some awnings if they can be maintained.
Any or all of that would be a valiant effort to recapture that old-time feel of West Broadway and still be hip and cool!

Fun Facts:
Built: 1913
County Taxable Value
Building: 179K Land: 50K
Total: 230K

Owner:Richard Brix
Flora WestBrooks
921 West Broadway

Varnado Printing
1017 West Broadway

This old mom & pop printing shop makes me feel bad when I think about change on Broadway because although I support local small business, I feel this business has no "business" occupying this great location in the center of a strip of fronts with great potential unless it somehow was open to the public.
The covered window glass and shabby top signage fascia look as if Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn white-washed the ol' picket fence over at ma & pa's and then bee-lined it to Varnado's and continued to go to town with the brushes.
In a perfect world, Varnado's opens to the public like a local small town Kinko's.
The current vinyl sign is laughable. With liberated glass windows and some signage with some vibrancy or charm, this place could single-handedly  transform the look of the whole block.

Fun Facts:
Built: 1920
County Taxable Value
Building: 179K Land: 50K
Total: 230K

Owner:Bankers Media Inc.
Moundsview Mn

Gas Station/Old Car Wash
1120 West Broadway

There was no way in hell I wasn't coming in and plastering my face to the little see-thru window where I could magically watch my family car scoot along driver-less through the wash.
The whole experience plays back in my memory like the classic black exploitation film  "Car Wash"
-but cold and boring.
I DO remember the shifty-looking cleaners at the end of the line, eyeballin' my momma like they'd never seen a whitegirl on the Northside. lol

Now:The old service station sign that once held the cooperate logo is now missing the top-most portion and the bottom half displays the current gas prices (I think) and the declaration of
"Now We Have Diesel." The MTC bus stop, as you can see, is clearly in the parking lot. The pumps look old, dangerous and suspect. The interior of the store forces face to face encounters with its one narrow aisle. The lot is terrible. EVERYTHING  needs paint.
This SHOULD be a prime petrol stop or carwash like it was in it's heyday.

Fun Facts:
Built: 1950
County Taxable Value
Building: 143K Land: 109K
Total: 250K

Owner:Fayo Mart Inc
New Brighton Mn

Choi's Auto &
Mn. Battery & Radiator1408-1410 West Broadway

Here we go again with the drab looking spray jobs attempting to combat blight with uniformity. Noble concept but in order for it to work you need to maintain the upkeep and keep it fresh looking, meaning fresh paint every five years at the least.
Choi's general lot around this property looks cracked and worn but in a way that adds character. The whole structure could be re-purposed and have a really cool open garage sort of feel for a coffee shop or Deli with a sweet patio.
The adjacent "Minnesota Battery & Radiator" could also be salvaged and once again serve purpose to the community if the neighboring businesses were to thrive.

First thing's first, rip off that top metal facade and bring back the brick!
A paint job isn't the first priority but adding some contrasting colors would improve the look ten-fold.
A quick roller to the bare wood window boards would be the most immediate improvement

1408-1410 West Broadway is in a very unique location when you take into account the proposed Northside Greenway.
It's a no-brainer that this location would be prime real estate for another Northside bike shop. Right?

Fun Facts:
Built: 1925(1410)1926(1408)
County Taxable Value

Building: 58.5K Land: 26.5K
Total: 85K
Building: 25K Land: 25K
Total: 50K

Sung Koo Choi
4640 Urbandale Ln.
Plymouth, Mn 55446
RC Woodis & GE Woodis
James Elms
3308 Eastgate Rd
St Anthony 55418

Salco Lighting/Sallabald Electric

909 West Broadway

It would be cool if Salco was an actual light fixture place where local rehabers and D.I.Y. buffs could shop locally at, but honestly, West Broadway isn't quite there yet in my opinion.

How about some paint on the bare wood and while you're at it, some touch ups to the over- all facade place holder until the owners can make this unit available for occupancy or sale. As it appears now, it stands out like four white guys cruising down 26th Ave after sunset.

As you can see, this section of Broadway also could use a unifying theme  to take advantage of the historic appeal of this stretch.

Fun Facts:
Built: 1910
County Taxable Value
Building: 102K Land: 18K
Total: 121K

Owner:Kevin Sallabard
19835 Co Rd 30
Hamel, Mn 55340

"Broadway Brownies"
1403-1411? West Broadway

This string of shit-stain-colored storefronts scar a stretch of West Broadway just west of Girard avenue.
Who knows what businesses might set up shop in these current storage spaces for the building's landlords if they were made more attractive and AVAILABLE.
Street parking looks dangerous with how vehicles travel this stretch of W.Broadway but how about paving that vacant lot right to the west? From the looks of the picture, people already have a desire and need for one.
I'm just going to go ahead and say it. A neighborhood bar at this location would be great for West  Broadway.  Neighborhood bars/liquor establishments are the driving force behind successful residential growth, just look at the residential appeal of Nordeast Minneapolis- with their plethora of dive bars and some really successful restaurants such as Psycho Suzie's or the classic Jax. Or just look at the Southside of Minneapolis in general.
Liquor and social hangouts are extremely important for residential and commercial growth.

"How has --->NO<---- Liquor establishments been working out for North Minneapolis?"

Who the hell wants to drive to go get liquored up and take a cab every night or worry about getting a DWI. Having a neighborhood bar eliminates the hassle of all that hoopla and adds a great social option close to home.

Let me step down from the soapbox.
These monstrosities need a full blown face lift. Not a simple one, either. At least the brick looks unscathed and in decent condition. That's a start. Second, at least one of the buildings in this stretch has a really unique signage panel.
Making a distinction between the top part of the facade and the bottom window plat boards would be the most immediate way for improvements to be made cheaply.
I would love to see ANYTHING here before I die.

Fun Facts:
Built: 1882(1403-05)1901(1411)
County Taxable Value

Building: 99K Land: 26K
Total: 126K
Building: 141K Land: 224K
Total: 165K

Keith Reitman

2339 Penn Ave N 
P.O.Box 11832

Minneapolis, Mn 55411

Triangle Building
2339-41 Penn

It's been 3 years since the terrible Northside tornado
ripped through this section of Broadway and to much disappointment, this structure STILL isn't fully repaired.
The building already wasnt a very good commercial aesthetic, with its lack of front side windows near the wedge, but I always had faith in this building as a business because of its unique design. At this point though I'm just concerned with its overall condition and well-being.

Before the storm, it once housed a photography studio, a barbershop, various beauty shops and from what I remember from my teenage years, the legendary Northside record shop Soul Survivor.

Business would thrive here as it serves as one of the arms of the historic 5 points corner of Broadway......if we can ever get the damn place back open!

Fun Facts:
Built: 1905(
County Taxable Value
Building: 49K Land: 27K
Total: 77K

Keith Reitman

2339 Penn Ave N 
P.O.Box 11832

Minneapolis, Mn 55411

Old Dealership
800 West Broadway

Many people remember this gigantic building as some form of dealership in the 30's through the late 70's, I believe.
Sullivan Motor Company, 800-812 West Broadway, Minneapolis 1926 (MHS)
NOW: 800 West Broadway 2014

A shell of its former glory, I'm actually surprised the majority of the glass is still intact and there aren't that many boarded up windows. It could be MUCH worse!
This is the property that, in my opinion, sticks out the most on this blight list. It's BIG, its UGLY and it couldnt be in a more prominent location on West Broadway.
How it's not ANYTHING is beyond me (probably price). The City/County must be holding out for a payday or something but the community has spoken. On more than one occasion in social media circles, this property keeps emerging as a potential community workspace center.
C'mon county! Let's figure out how to make this happen! How is the most poverty-stricken/violence-ridden section of town  not receiving some sort of special consideration or donation to find a solution for this property to get back into the frey of things on West Broadway.
The Northside and the rest of the city should be in crisis mode when dealing with these disparities of wealth and well-being in the city and should try new things! Where is that teen center we were promised during Murderapolis? 

Fun Facts:
Built: 1925
County Taxable Value
Building: 405K Land: 219K
Total: 625K

Owner:Hennipen County Forfeiture 

Historic White Castle #7 and I.O.O.F. Lodge #4
(Diner and Vietnam-Hong Kong Building)
404-410 West Broadway


Ok, maybe I'm a little bias picking these properties for the #1 spot.
Let me Explain.
First off, they ARE really ugly and DO look quite run down.
But the history...oh, the History!!

The struggle to save these buildings from Kemps' wrecking ball has been a tedious struggle to watch since it was first reported on this Popular neighborhood blog and since the neighborhood residents have fought to inspire rather than demolish.
I've grown to love and admire their history and potential.
The quaint diner is an obvious slam dunk for a small local diner reminiscent of Ideal Diner over Northeast or the historic Mickey's Diner in downtown St.paul. It has that old Bandbox appeal.
Quick little diners like this are the rage and parking across the street is doable with the wide open lot!
Let's not ignore the 100-year-old I.O.O.F (Independent Order of Odd Fellows) Hennepin #4 building and all its proxy potential. It's right next to a classic Northside clothing/shoe store and could compliment Friedmans nicely with added retail space. Anything food would work with the established fast food restaurants located across the street. Extending the bar zone to include a new drinking hole would couple nicely with the ballroom space available upstairs.

The current signage has to go. Bottom Line.
The rest could be addressed with just breaking up the solidarity of the boring red plat boards covering the windows of yesteryear. Adding some accent colors would add some "pop"  immediately but opening the windows should be a long term goal.
The historic White Castle building needs a full on historic renovation. Bring back the glazed brick, bring back the glass block behind the red boards and get some lights behind the glass!
Add some neato 1950's neon signage!
This is possibly the 3rd oldest White Castle building in existence, and the oldest White Castle in Minnesota- even older and more unique then the historically designated brethren over South!

The community needs to keep up the clear message to Kemps! We cherish and respect our Northside history and historic buildings and we won't stand by and let you destroy it!

Fun Facts:
Built: 1895(404)1927(410)
County Taxable Value
404 & 410

Building: 184K Land: 66K
Total: 250K


Kemps LLC

420 W Broadway Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55411(612) 378-8495

Honorable Mention:
So there you have it, the top 15 properties adding blight to West Broadway in North Minneapolis
Here are a few Honorable Mentions!

827 West Broadway
Really just needs the side brick fixed.

2011 West Broadway
Western Motors

I wouldn't be surprised to see this developed soon.

BLO Liquors 5 Points
...Will be gone soon if all goes according to plan

 El-Amin's Fish House 2221 W Broadway Ave

El-Amins really could just use a different color scheme, the current stripes look ridiculous and the sign with arrow needs maintenance/upkeep.

Keep an eye out for future blog posts about thoughts for North Minneapolis and like, like, like!