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Review of October Third Thursday Meeting 


Community and business leaders met on Thursday, October 17 to discuss local issues at the Penn Central of Richfield Third Thursday meeting.

Meeting Highlights:

Christine Costello, Community Development Coordinator from the City of Richfield, reported on new business in the community, including:

  1. Lakewinds Food Coop - footings are being poured for the new building sited at the Lyndale Gardens property
  2. O'Reilly Auto Parts plans for store at former King Oscars site
  3. Taco Bell - new building near Menards is up and work on interior now underway
  4. Firehouse Subs, Von Hanson's Meats and Salon Concepts
Becky Strom from Posters on Board mentioned they are working with local arts to develop concepts for a wall mural on their building
Theresa Munoz, store manager of the Richfield Arc's Value Village, gave a progress report on the renovation of the store facade. She said the update will take the building out of the 1980s and into 2013. Work should be done in a couple weeks.
Erika from the new E-Cigarette Lounge, 6419 Penn Avenue So., Richfield, reported on the business and its product line. She said e-cigarettes use a rechargable battery that plugs into a USB port. The device uses an e-liquid that turns to vapor. Liquids are available with various levels of nicotene. She mentioned some people use e-cigarettes to give up tobacco cigarettes. 
Angie  Schaefbauer, Richfield Chamber of Commerce President, suggested that Richfield investigate grants offered by the Mainstreets Revitalization Program. Grants may be used for numerous aesthetic enhancements She also encouraged attendance at the next Richfield Chamber luncheon on Wednesday, October 23 from 11:30 to 1 pm. There will be a panel discussion of the new Affordable Healthcare Act. For more information, click here.
David Gepner reported that Richfield was named a Bike Friendly City by the League of American Bicyclists. Richfield is now the first and only Twin Cities metro city to receive that distinction.
There will be no Third Thursday meeting in November. Plans are for the next meeting to happen in December.

Neighborhood meeting goes on

About a dozen brave souls ignore wintery weather to discuss community issues

City of Richfield Fire Department Wayne Kewitsch.jpg
Richfield Fire Chief Wayne Kewitsch was a guest at recent meeting

Thursday, April 18 was a frightful night weather wise, with a snowstorm more reminiscent of January than April. But that didn't stop a determined group of neighborhood enthusiasts from showing up at Hope's Siver Spoon Restaurant to discuss what's happening in the Penn and 66th area.

Ruth Tripp from Bloomington Health reported the results of a survey taken to get feedback about last year's Open Streets at Penn Fest event.   Overall, attendees, businesses and participants were enthusiastically favorable to the event, and they indicated a desire for the event to return. (Their wish will be granted with a scheduled return of Open Streets at Penn Fest on Sunday, September 15.) The complete summary of the surveys will soon be published on this site.

Wayne, Kewitsch, the Fire Chief of the Richfield Fire Department, discussed plans for the renovation of the firestation at Penn and 64th. Chief Kewitsch said the department will re-examine costs and bids associated with the renovation. Some costs have come in higher than first anticipated, and the department wants to be fiscally responsible with taxpayer money. Most of the renovation will be to modernize the interior, but the exterior will be given a facelift, too. There are also plans for extensive landscaping, especially on the southside and Oliver Avenue side of the firestation.

Tentatively in July, work will begin to rebuild the deck of the Penn Avenue bridge over 62 Crosstown.  The bridge will be closed during this reconstruction, perhaps as late as October. Improvements will include a newly surfaced deck and wider sidewalks. 

Plans for Open Street at Penn Fest 2013 were discusses. The popularity of Open Street events was noted.  Two other Open Streets events will be held in the Twin Cities on the same date as the Richfield event. To help people get up and down the avenue, and to ideally introduce people to the fun of biking, Penn Cycle will offer some loaner bikes on the day of the event at select stations.

The next Penn Central Third Thursday meeting will be held on May 16 at 7:30 am at Hope's Silver Spoon Restaurant.



Penn Avenue bridge closing to impact area

Guests at recent Third Thursday meeting reveal plans for reconstruction 

Penn Avenue Bridge Richfield MN

Residents and business owners gathered at Hope's Silver Spoon Restaurant on Thursday, May 16 to discuss area happenings in the Penn Central of Richfield community.

Ron Rauchle, MnDOT West Area Engineer, and Stephanie Malmberg, Minneapolis Project Engineer, joined the meeting as guests to share details about bridge and road construction projects.

Mr. Rauchle detailed plans for the bridge deck project that will close the Penn Avenue bridge over Crosstown 62 Highway this summer.  The bridge will close starting on July 22, and remain closed up to October 22. If the project proceeds at a quicker pace, the bridge will re-open sooner.   Crosstown Highway itself will be closed two weekends for deck demolition.  The specific weekend are yet to be determined. The ramps on the northside of the bridge will be closed for the duration of the project, while the ramps on the southside will be closed for a maximum of seven days. Specific days are yet to be determined. 

The bridge, which is fifty years old, will be modernized. Two feet will be added to the bridge width. Driving lanes will be narrowed from twelve feet to eleven feet.  The pedestrian walkways will be widened to make crossing the bridge by foot a more pleasant experience.

The Penn Avenue bridge will be re-decked this year, and the Xerxes bridge will be re-decked in 2014. According to Mr Rauchle, the Penn Avenue project is a more traditional re-decking, but the Xerxes project will involve pre-cast panels that allow for quicker completion. 

Stephanie Malmberg discussed the Penn Avenue Road reconstruction that is currently in progress in south Minneapolis.  The span of the project goes from the 62 Crosstown bridge to 54th Street. Reconstruction started in the middle to lessen the impact on businesses at 60th Street and 54th Street. The project will reach the business districts by about June 15th.

Richfield's Traffic Engineer Jeff Pearson also attended the meeting. He reported that current plans call for reconstruction of 66th Street from Xerxes to Cedar starting in 2016. The project could presumably last 3 years.

Visit this website for updates on future developments related to area roadway projects.


The next step in building a strong, vibrant Penn Central of Richfield Community


After the great success of last weekend's Open Streets at Penn Fest event, it's time to start taking the next steps in charting the future of the neighborhood. The monthly Third Thursday meeting was a chance to keep the momentum going with a lively discussion about Penn Fest and the neighborhood. Third Thursday is a regular meeting where residents, city officials and business owners gather to discuss the Penn Central of Richfield neighborhood. The most recent meeting was held this past Thursday, September 20 at Hope's Silver Spoon Restaurant.

Hightlights of the last meeting include:

  • A strong consensus that Open Streets at Penn Fest was a huge success
  • A strong desire for Open Streets at Penn Fest to return in 2013 on at least the same scale with the street closed, music, activities and more
  • The need to seek and confirm major sponsorship for the 2013 Open Streets at Penn Fest should begin immediately
  • There was a belief that there should be food vans at a future Penn Fest. They should be parked at the southern end of the festival to draw the crowd and not to compete with established Penn Central restaurants at the northern end of Penn Avenue
  • There was a suggestion to set up a business block captain system to inquire and encourage future participation
  • The Penn Fest booklet could group coupons together
  • On non-Penn Fest topics, there was a discussion of the workings between the City and small business people regarding application of codes. It was believed the city does a good job, but there needs to be an understanding that business people may find codes complicated and confusing. Therefore, an effort to explain codes in a common language may be necessary to accommodate people dealing with these issues for the first time.

To get involved in future Third Thursday meetings, mark your calendar for October 18 for 6:15 pm at Davanni's on 64th and Penn. Third Thursday meetings alternate between morning and evening meetings to accommodate different schedules. The November meeting will be a morning meeting, December evening, January morning, and so on. Third Thursday meetings are your chance to have a voice in future Penn Fests and the community.

Events, Renewal and Positive Energy Are Future of Penn Central of Richfield

Exciting Developments Announced at April 19th Third Thursday Meeting

The monthy Third Thursday Meeting held on April 19th was filled with announcements about exciting positive changes headed for the Penn Central of Richfield area.

Highlights of the meeting include:

  • Real estate professional Bill Wolfson described upgrades planned for the Arc's Value Village property. Improvements to both the exterior and interior of the building will be made through a private/public partnership between Wolfson's company, which owns the Value Village property, and the City of Richfield.  Exterior improvements include an upgraded of the parking lot and sidewalk.
  • Gordon Hanson updated the group on the Avenue of Opportunities Open House.  The event will help market vacant storefronts and offices along Penn Avenue in Richfield. Prospectiive business owners are encouraged to tour the spaces available for lease on May 19, 2012 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon.  The First National Bank of the Lakes, 6613 Penn Avenue South, Richfield, will serve as the information center where entrepreneurs will come to get started.  Hanson reported that there has been an enthusiastic response from property owners about participating in the event. 
  • David Gepner reported that Uncommon Sports Cards plans to move across the street to a space formerly occupied by a consignment shop.
  • John Stark from the City of Richfield reported that interior and exterior improvements to the firestation will be made.  The fire department needs to remodel to accommodate female firefighers.  Exterior enhancements will be made as part of the same renovation.
  • Tom Rublein updated the group about Penn Fest, which has been awarded a grant as part of the Open Streets campaign.  This means Penn Fest 2012 will be bigger and better, with a stretch of Penn Avenue closed for the event.  The closed street will be filled with activities such as live music, street hockey, a bike rodeo, sidewalk chalk art, yoga and more.  These items are for descriptive purposes only.  Actual activities have not been finalized yet.  It is believed that Penn Fest was awarded a $10,000 grant.  Area businesses are ancouraged to actively participate to gain visibility to potential customers.
  • Flynn Rico-Johnson of do.town plans to organize a petition and letter writing campaign to support more pedestrian access in the Penn Central area.
  • The Penn/Crosstown bridge deck will be reconstructed in 2013, which may offer an opportunity to create a "Welcome to Penn Central Gateway."
  • Minneapolis will be renovating a Penn Avenue north of Richfield in 2013, and possibly be adding some bike lanes north of 60th Street.
  • Mother Duck will be expanding by reopening their old location.  They will use this space for infants and toddlers.
  • The wall in front of CVS will be stained soon
  • Flowerama and Aida will be working on a joint coupon promotion - a great example of two area businesses working together.
  • Richfield resident Kevin Klos has been working on a new Penn Central of Richfield logo, which will be unveiled soon.


5th Anniversary!
Overflow Crowd Attends March 15th Third Thursday Meeting

Penn Central of Richfield Third Thursday Meetings reached a milestone on March 15th.  It was the 5th anniversary of these grassroots meetings to bring neighbors, business people and city officials together to discuss the future of the area.  And the 5th anniversary meeting packed in an overflow crowd.

A number of business people introduced themselves.  Rich Huemmer of Uncommon Sports Cards described his business of selling sport cards, sports figurines and autographed memorabilia. Jim Andserson, manager of the new CVS store, said he has 32 years of experience in retail pharmacy operations.  He added that he likes to bring old family values of treating customers right to his store.  Bill Roase of Ralph's Shoe Service thanked the community for its warm welcome.  He likes his new location better than Southdale.  Business has been good, and people were even bringing in shoes before the store opened.   Don and Lori Swatala were on hand, reporting that their dog day care business is moving ahead.  Amy Mohamed of Aida expressed thanks for the warm welcome to the community upon the opening of their new restaurant.

Mike Eastling, Public Works Director for the City of Richfield, talked about the issue of crosswalks. The Penn Central of Richfield group has set enhanced pedestrian comfort and safety as a top goal. Mr. Eastling said the city is looking at the issue of crosswalks throughout the corridor.  According to Eastling, the issue is complicated because painted crosswalks can have the effect of creating a sense of safety for walkers while not increasing awareness for drivers. To improve safety, education and enforcement of laws is also required.  Eastling promised more study on this issue will be done.

Eastling also talked about the plans for a bigger Penn Fest celebration this year.  An application for a grant has been submitted to partner Penn Fest with an Open Streets event, an activity where a portion of the street would be closed to vehicular traffic and people would enjoy various recreational activities on the street. Jim Anderson spoke glowingly about his experience with events where people are encouraged to walk the avenue.  He said it is a benefit to businesses.

Gordon Hanson talked about the progress of hosting a business open house event where empty storefronts and office spaces would be open for touring by prospective tenants.  Plans are moving forward with a good reception from property owners and business experts.  The event will be held on May 19th, with First National Bank of the Lakes hosting as the central meeting location.  More details soon.

Tom Rublein is introducing a new activity called P.A.W.S. (Penn Avenue Walkers Society).  These regularly scheduled walks will encourage people to get out and walk along the Penn Avenue corridor.  More details to come.

Karen Barton of the City of Richfield summarized various development projects throughout Richfield.

Review of February 16 Third Thursday Meeting

Residents and business professionals met at Davanni's at 6345 Penn Avenue to get the latest news about happenings in the Penn Central of Richfield area. State Senator Ken Kelash, District 63, and members of the media were also in attendance, including Richfield Patch, the Richfield Sun Current and 55423.info.

Highlights of the meeting include:

  • The landscaping project on the city's firestation, watertower and liquor store properties appears ready to move ahead.
  • The Penn Avenue bridge over 62 Crosstown will be resurfaced next year, creating an opportunity to develop a gateway presence into Richfield. 
  • Woof Central, a proposed dog daycare in the former Dave's Furniture World location, received a site plan approval from the City Council.
  • Aida, a new restaurant in the former Taco Bell location, has nearly completed its interior renovations of the building.
  • An update on the proposed business open house in the Penn Central neighborhood was presented.

A representative of the do.town campaign spoke about the healthy-living program being implemented in Richfield.  Instead of focusing on changing behavior, do.town works to make healthy living an easy choice.  It promotes actvities such as walking to school, taking a walk at lunch breaks and making infrastructure renovations that enhance active lifestyles.  The program attempts to reach people who live relatively inactive lifestyles.

State Senator Ken Kelash, who represents Richfield as well as a portion of southwest Minneapolis and northern Bloomington, updated the group on the state legislative session.  He spoke about initiatives for job growth, retraining and economic development.

The next Third Thursday meeting will be held at Hope's Silver Spoon Restaurant at 6700 Penn Avenue South on March 15th at 7:30 am.  It's a great chance get involved in the community at a grassroots level.

Highlights of the January 19 Third Thursday Meeting

The January 19th Third Thursday Meeting was extraordinarily well attended with a mix of business people, residents, city officials and media.

Highlights of the meeting included:

  • A welcome to Bill, Kay and Ron Roase from Ralph's Shoe Service, which is moving to Penn Central of Richfield from Southdale. Ron told how he ran the business years ago in the 50th and Xerxes area. Bill said he is aiming for a March 1st opening.
  • An Introduction of Lori Swatala who plans to open a dog daycare and boarding service.
  • Rod Johnson from the Richfield First National Bank of the Lakes briefing the group on his outlook for the economy in 2012
  • An introduction of Amy and Ahmed Mohamed who plan to open a restaurant in the former Taco Bell location
  • An update from Karen Barton from the City of Richfield talking about the landscape improvement grant available to property owners in the Penn Central area. She also reviewed pending city developments.
  • A discussion about the need for a crosswalk at 63rd and Penn.
  • A brief talk from Mark Plenke, the founder and editor of www.55423.info, a digital community news service.
  • A review of why the once-proposed transit hub for Penn Central that moved to Southdale instead.



Get Involved in your community!
Third Thursday Meetings are your chance to get involved in the Penn Central of Richfield area.  Come hear what is happening and voice your opinions.  As the name suggests, the meetings are held on the Third Thursday of each month.  Timing for the meetings alternates from month to month.  We  meet at 7:30 a.m. at the Hope's Silver Spoon Restaurant on certain months and at 6:15 p.m. at Davanni's at 6345 Penn Avenue South on alternate months.  Watch this website for meeting information.

Penn Central of Richfield - Your Neiughborhood Mainstreet