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!

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