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

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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

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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

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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:


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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Property Info