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The site commonly known as the Bumper to Bumper store at 6501 Penn Avenue South has attracted the interest of two developers. The developers have appeared twice before work session meetings with the Richfield Planning Commission, HRA and City Council. The first meeting took place on September 16, and the second one happened on November 18. The developers presented refined proposals at the second meeting. The HRA and City Council will most likely choose one of these two developers to move forward with a development plan.

Competing Developers
The developers are Locus Architecture and Broadway Investors. Both developers are proposing multistory mixed-use developments at the site. Broadway Investors is currently involved in the Penn Central of Richfield area as the developer of the NOVO apartment complex planned for the 66th and Queen area just west of the CVS store.


Development Area
The footprint of the proposed developments could change depending on the interest of adjacent property owners to sell. Here is what is known so far. The Richfield HRA owns the Bumper to Bumper site, so that property is available if the HRA wants to move forward. The developers are also interested in three single family homes fronting Oliver Avenue and the building housing the Canine College. The interest in the other property owners to sell is undetermined at this point. Richfield Community Development Director John Stark says that the owners of the Canine College building have been hard to reach and have shown reluctance to sell in the past. The project could proceed with just the Bumper to Bumper site.

Locus Architecture Proposal
Representatives of Locus Architecture said their proposal is based on a theme of “People, Place and Possibility,” with the goal of making the project a catalyst for rejuvenation on Penn Avenue. They are proposing a building of six stories on Penn Avenue, with commercial space at street level and residential homes above. If the single-family homes to the east would become available, the plan calls for building townhomes facing Oliver. They would like to add a plaza with green space between the building on Penn Avenue and the townhomes. Toward the end of the meeting, Council Member Simon Trautman, who represents the area, said he’d prefer that the plaza face Oliver so that the neighborhood could benefit from the green space. Early ideas for the commercial space include co-working spaces and a business incubator.


Broadway Investors Proposal
The Broadway Investors group is proposing a building with five stories on Penn Avenue. Street level would be commercial space with residential homes above. If they can acquire the single-family homes on Oliver Avenue, they could see building a parking structure on that site, with two levels underground and two above. Broadway said they have one single family homeowner under contract to sell. Planning Commissioner Sean O’Leary expressed reservations about the parking proposal facing Oliver, but the developers said they wanted to mass more intensive development toward Penn Avenue. There would be a communal rooftop deck for residents to relax, grill and socialize. Greenspace plans include new plantings on Penn Avenue. Early plans for the commercial space include a tap house, live-work development and co-working spaces.

Affordable Housing 
Both plans include affordable housing components. HRA Commissioner Sue Sandahl asked the developers for an estimate of how much of the residential housing would be considered affordable. Broadway Investors said they are designating 20 percent of the development for residents at 50 percent of area median income. Locus Architecture said they plan for 65 percent of the development to have affordability restrictions.

Accessibility
The need for housing that serves the disability community was addressed. Locus Architecture plans for units that serve hearing and vision impaired tenants with audible and visual alarms. Units would be designed with doorways that allow for wheelchair access and well as at least one unit with a no-step entrance. Broadway Investors said they have experience in working with Fraser in addressing accessibility issues with their NOVO development, and they plan to bring that experience to this proposal as well.
Next Steps
Members of the Planning Commission, HRA and City Council were asked to fill out a questionnaire to evaluate the two proposals. Council Member Ben Whalen expressed concern that the questionnaire lacked transparency since the answers wouldn’t be shared in a public forum. It seems likely that the HRA will choose one of these two developers to move forward.
Era Comes to a Close
For several decades, Brad's Landscaping has operated a Christmas tree lot along the Penn Avenue corridor. The lot has appeared in different locations over the years, including at the old Arby's location (now Dunkin' Donuts), present day Car-X location and on a small strip of land west of present day CVS pharmacy. In recent years, it has appeared in the northwest corner of the Lunds and Byerly's lot at 62nd and Penn.

A planned apartment complex will displace the tree lot from the Lunds location. Brad Thompson, owner of the tree lot, has decided it's time to sell Christmas trees online as opposed to having a lot. Next year, customers will be able to order trees online and Brad's will deliver the trees directly to the customers' homes. If you'd like to be put on the remiinder list, email your contact info to BradsTreeLot@gmail.com. 
Sandy's Tavern Membership Gives a Free Menu Item a Day
With new ownership at Sandy's Tavern, you can now benefit from a unique new restaurant membership. For $99 a month, you are eligible to receive a regular menu item free every day. In addition to Sandy's, members may also redeem this offer at other restauants in the Twin Cities, namely Bar Brigade, The Foxtrot and Republic. The restaurant website says members will receive other specials during their membership terms, too. For more information on the membership offer, click here.
Developers Compete for Rights to Bumper to Bumper Site
2019 an Active Year of Changes
The past year has been an active one for changes along the Penn Avenue corridor in Richfield. Here's a quick look back at a few of the highlights.
Dunkin' (commonly known as Dunkin' Donuts) opened on Penn Avenue on the site previously occupied by CarHop/Arbys. 
Flynn's Diner opens in the vacant Bruegger's Bagels site at 6600 Penn Avenue South with a retro 50s theme. 
Penn Cycle was a legacy business born in Richfield on Penn Avenue. Freewheel Bikes bought out the Richfield-based shop in 2019.
Subway opened in the building that once housed  Flowerama. This is not the building's first run as a sub shop, having been a Clark's sub shop years ago.
The dental office at 6945 Penn changed from O'Neil to Ethos Dental. In this case it's only a name change. You'll find the same staff inside.
A new agent took over the State Farm Insurance agency at 6620 Penn. We welcomed insurance agent Karl Hernam to the neighborhood.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. New owners took over at Sandy's Tavern, but all good things will stay the same.
New Site for Johnston's Vac & Sew
When Johnston's Vac & Sew moved from its long-time location on Penn Avenue, many faithful customers were sorry to see it go. After all, it was the go-to place for sales and repairs for vacuums and sewing machines for years. The good news is that they didn't have to go far. Johnston's relocated to the building at 2323 West 66th Street.
 
The new shop is filled with the latest vacuum cleaners and sewing machines in an attractive, 
neatly organized storefront. You'll also find the same friendly staff ready to assist with helpful advice. 

Johnston's is a family owned, independent business that prides itself on serving customers with honesty and value. Educating customers before any sale is made is a high priority for the staff at the store. In a highly competitive retail landscape, Johnston's buisness code ot ethics has keep the store going stong since 1982. 
Brads Christmas Tree Lot to Go Online Next Year