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News updates from the Penn & 66th area

The avenue is blooming

Local businesses add a colorful touch 

Arc's Value Village planters
Planters maintained by Organic Lawns by Lunseth

Sometimes small things make a big difference in the look and feel of an area. Plantings with flowers and ornamentals make a positive impact on aesthetic appeal.


With that in mind, we'd like to thank Arc's Value Village for planting the containers on its site and Organic Lawns by Lunseth for planting the ones in front of Hub Hobby.


As the summer goes on, these flowers will brighten and beautify the neighborhood. 



Witnessing the transformation

The future look of Fireside takes shape 


We've been enjoying watching the new Fireside being transformed. It's looking really sharp and classy. One feature that caught our eye is the expansive windows that will let a lot of natural sunlight in. That's a nice touch.


We'll look forward to grand opening news and share it with everyone on this website.


Lariat Lanes memories
Local bowling alley closes out its long run 

John Powers Sr.
John Powers Jr and Brandi James
Bowling on Lariat Lanes' last day
Crowd of party goers at Lariat Lanes
Display case of autographed memories
Autographed bowling pin by Garth Brooks
Autographed bowling pin by Tricia Yearwood

Lariat Lanes bowling alley closed out its 57-year run as a Richfield institution on Sunday, May 10. The bowling alley had a "going-away" event on Saturday, May 9 and then opened for one final day on Sunday. The closing of Lariat Lanes marks an end to bowling alleys operating in Richfield. 


On Saturday during the good-bye party, the joint was jumpin'. People filled the bowling alley on what was a beautiful spring day. All lanes were filled with bowlers and the dining areas were filled with people eating, drinking and sharing memories.


When asked when he first purchased Lariat Lanes, owner John Powers Sr. replied 1988. Mr. Powers said he purchased the bowling alley because his son John Powers Jr. had been working there part time and thought it would be a great idea for the family to own a bowling alley. His father followed through on making the purchase and the bowling alley became a family affair. Mr. Powers' daughter Brandi James had served as manager of Lariat Lanes in recent years.


There were always great stories about celebrities who had visited Lariat Lanes. Photos above show a display case containing autographed keepsakes, including bowling pins signed by Garth Brooks and Tricia Yearwood.


Penn Central of Richfield is sad to see this chapter close in the neighborhood. Lariat Lanes fit our preference for locally owned, independent businesses that add characer to the avenue. We'll always hold a special place for Lariat Lanes in our collective memories.


Best burger in town

Sandy's Tavern wins Sun Current award 


Our legendary Penn Central of Richfield burger place Sandy's Tavern won the Sun Current award for having the best burger. You'll find Sandy's at 6612 Penn Avenue South, Richfield, in its landmark building that has stood on Penn Avenue since the days Richfield was still a farming community.


Congratuation to Sandy's for winning the Sun Current award!


Check out their menu, whcih carries burgers, sandwiches, appetizers and more by clicking here

Grab a microbrew

Davanni's adds craft beer selection to menu 


Order up a microbrew the next time you eat at Davanni's. Craft beers are being rolled at Davanni's locations across the Twin Cities, including the Richfield location at 6345 Penn Avenue South. Prior to this recent change, most Davanni's only served nationally distributed brands.


According to an article in the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal, the craft beer selection varies at each Davanni's location, allowing each restaurant to customize its offerings based on its customer base. This strategy of customizing the brew lineup at each location will allow Davanni's to switch out choices as tastes change.


A year of change

A Penn Central of Richfield review of 2014 

As each year comes and goes, it's always interesting to recall highlights and changes in the neighborhood. In 2014, we witnessed fun times, promising developments and sad news. In short, it was a year like many others. Life is a constant process of evolving stories. Here are a few of the highlights from 2014.


The Xerxes Avenue Bridge over 62 Crosstown was redecked earlier in the year. This reconstruction diverted more traffic into the Penn and 66th area, causing a wee bit more congestion but also potentially bringing more customers to our Penn Avenue businesses.


We welcomes Ambro Alvarado as the new owner of Signs by Tomorrow, 6442 Penn Avenue South, Richfield. Ambro has been an active owner who is making great connections in the community. Signs by Tomorrow can fulfill a wide variety of sign, banner and other visual message media.


One of our favorite homegrown businesses, Uncommon Sports Cards, said goodbye. Uncommon Sports Cards had been a great member of the community and an enthusiastic supporter of our Open Streets at PennFest celebration.


Located at a high profile site at 66th and Penn, our local Brueggers Bagels shop closed its doors. Area residents miss the opportunity to pick up something quick to eat and drink.


Minnesota Magicians hockey team made a guest appearannce at Davanni's in Richfield.


Open Streets at Penn Fest 2014 was a smashing success with food, music, sports, a 5K run and crafts filling the street in September. Fireside Pizza sponsored music at therir doorstep.


The Richfield Gateway Monument at 62nd and Penn was constructed last autumn. The monument serves as a great way to welcome visitors to Richfield.


Penn Central of Richfield welcomed a new store to the neighborhood - Something for Everyone. This gift shop has an amazing collection of unique items.


Aquariums of Distinction

Local business builds intriguing aquariums 

Mike Maki of Premier Aquarium Service
Open house held weekend of June 27 and 28

On the weekend of June 27 and 28, Premier Aquarium Services opened its door for a public open house. This local business is one more example of the intriguing businesses that call the Penn Central of Richfield neighborhood home. Visitors to the open house could tour through an amazing collection of aquariums and aquatic displays filled with colorful fish, fascinating turtles and more. Fish on display ranged from the common to rare. 


Premier Aquarium Services specializes in the design, installation and maintenance of luxury aquariums. Clients include both residential and commercial accounts. The shop is not a retail outlet where a person might go to buy a few fish, but rather a full service provider of complete aquarium systems. 


But Premier Aquarium Services doesn't limit its work to indoor spaces. The firm also installs outdoor water gardens. Owner Mike Maki also held a "Pond Tour" at his house in late June. A local resident in the Penn Central of Richfield neighborhood, Mike has a spectacular front and backyard filled with water features such as ponds, streams and waterfalls, all surrounded by stunning plantings and rock hardscapes. This work is handled by a separate division called Premier Water Features.


For more information about Premier Aquarium Services, click here


Welcome to the neighborhood

Positive Pedals Bike Shop Opens for Business 

Rich Meredyk and his kids
Positive Pedals Bike Shop

The dream of owning one's own business runs strong in many people. But only a few have the courage to step forward and make it a reality. For Rich Meredyk and Holly Hines, that dream has taken shape in the form of the new bike shop in the Penn Central neighborhood -- Positive Pedals Bikes. The new shop just opened this spring and is located at 6603 Queen Avenue So., Suite T, Richfield. The shop can be found on the east side of the building that also houses Curves and Elite Driving School.


Rich is an avid bike enthusiast who has been involved in the indistry for about 18 years. Rich and Holly started this new venture with the help of many friends and family members. 


Prior to owning his bike shop, Rich was employed in the auto industry, specifically at Westside Volkswagen. At the dealership, he dedicated himself to excelling at top-notch customer service, which is a skill set that will characterize how his bike shop will be run.


According to Rich, the buying experience at Positive Pedals will be accompanied by personalized service. As an example, he will go on a quick ride with the customer, show how to change a tire and demonstrate the tools needed to perform a tire change. He'll also explain how to interpret the seriousness of noises that may occur out on the road, and he offers valuable bike maintenance tips such as the importance of cleaning the chain after a ride. All of these extra services will go along with making sure each bike he sells is the right choice for the customer. 


While visiting the bike shop, I saw a young couple come in to look at bikes. It was a chance to see Rich in action. He took time to ask the couple about their needs, riding experience and what features they desired in a bike. Rich also shared tips about bicycle construction, explaining that bike frames made from steel offered a smoother ride than ones constructed of aluminum. It was the type of in-depth knowledge that helps a customer make a more informed decision.


Rich's passion for biking shows with his enthusiasm, and he wants to share that excitement with others.  The shop will offer Wednesday night rides starting at 6 pm and Saturday morning rides beginning at 8 am. Rides are appropriate for all skill levels from casual riders to more ambitious riders. When the skill level varies, Rich may let the experienced riders lead the way while staying behind with the others. Rides leave from the shop; and, of course, are subject to weather conditions.


Like all entrepreneurs, starting one's own business comes with hard work. Rich works seven days a week. But that's okay, because he's enjoying every minute of it. Owning this business with Holly is exactly where he wants to be. 


Shop hours are:


  • Mon - Fri: 9:00am - 9:00pm
  • Sat: 10:00am - 6:00pm
  • Sun: 12:00pm - 4:00pm 
Stop by and visit Rich and Holly when you get a chance. Or visit their website at www.positivepedalsbikes.com.



New options for fueling your car
U.S. Gas station to re-brand as Minnoco 

Minnoco at 60th and Penn

The U.S. Gas Station at 6744 Penn Avenue South in Richfield is undergoing a re-branding to the MINNOCO brand, which is a line of gas stations recently launched in the past few years. MINNOCO (Minnesota Independent Oil Company) is a brand of gasoline developed for the members of the MSSA (Minnesota Service Station & Convenience Store Association) by the members of the MSSA, which allows its members to own and control their own brand of fuel.


MINNOCO stations are known for offering blends of fuel with higher ethanol content. A MINNOCO station opened at 60th and Penn in south Minneapolis a couple years ago and they are offering E-15 and E-30 blends of fuel. These fuels are often offered at a lower cost than traditional blends. These higher ethanol fuels are only recommended for newer cars. Construction is now underway at the soon-to-be MINNOCO AT 6744 Penn to install new fuel tanks.


For a short time during a portion of the construction, the station will not be selling fuels, but the convenience store will remain open. 



Potential soccer tournament for Penn Fest
New soccer field and track under construction 

Soccer field and walking track
Major construction
Walking track recently installed

The once empty field at Penn and 75th has seen a lot of activity recently. First the grass was torn up. Then huge dirt piles appeared. Now things are taking shape wiith the ground being leveled and a new walking track being installed.


It's all part of the new soccer field and walking track being instralled at Intermediate School District 287.


Penn Central of Richfield volunteer David Gepner has approached the school district with the idea of organizing a soccer tournament during Penn Fest this fall to officially open the field. Michael Cowles, director of facilities with Intermediate District 287, has said he had heard overwhelmingly positive response to the idea.


Details have yet to be worked out, but stay tuned for more news about this possible Penn Fest attraction.


New store on the avenue

"Something for Everyone" offers exactly that! 

Bill Wasserman (pictured) runs the store with his wife Patricia Bown
Located at 6644 Penn Avenue South in Richfield
Collectible plates and decorations
Sports memorabilia and more!

Something for Everyone, a new store at 6644 Penn Avenue South, Richfield, offers a sense of adventure when you walk through the door. Step inside and you're suddenly surrounded by an intriguing collection of decorations, memorabilia, toys, models and more. The vast array of items is what makes the store magical. Visiting Something for Everyone is not just a shopping trip. It's a journey of discovery.


The store is run by Patricia Bown and her husband, Bill Wasserman. We stopped in for a visit on Saturday, November 15 and met Bill. Just as the name suggests, the store has "Something for Everyone." Bill mentioned that the store offers items for all ages from kids to adults. You'll find model cars, collectible dolls, decorative plates and figurines, stuffed animals, sports memorabilia and decorations -- and that's just scratching the surface. As the holiday season approaches, Something for Everyone will be a great destination for discovering imaginative and unique gifts. 


Something for Everyone is open Monday through Thursday from 10 am to 4 pm and Friday and Saturday 10 am to 6 pm. Sunday hours will start in December for the holiday shopping season.


Stop by to explore this new store in Penn Central of Richfield, and to say "hello" to our new neighbors, Patricia and Bill.


During the recent Give to the Max Day, we mentoned a few non-profit missions close to home where you might consider making a donation. Give to the Max Day is now done, but the opportunity to give lives on. The links below will take you directly to online donation pages for the organizations below. Donating to these causes will help strengthen our community.


Richfield Foundation - This local foundation is an all-volunteer run organization that grants money to causes that work for successful kids, secure families, and a strong community. To read more, click here


Wood Lake Nature Center - Our local Richfield Nature Center has a donation page asking for funds so that children from low income families can attend summer camps. To read more, click here


Richfield Band Shell - Supporters seeking to build an outdoor performing arts band shell are seeking funds to enhance the planned community asset. To read more, click here


Fraser -  Located in the heart of the Penn Central of Richfield neighborhood, Fraser is making a world of difference for youth and adults with special needs. To read more, click here.


Assistance League - Another resident of the Penn Central of Richfield neighborhood, the Assistance League operates a thrift store to raise funds to feed and cloth children from low income families. To read more, click here.


66th Street decision reconsidered

Council Member Pat Elliott asks to rescind 66th Street Concept 4B 

Pat Elliott
Michael Howard

First Ward City Council Member Pat Elliott asked for an amended City Council agenda on Tuesday, January 13 for the consideration to rescind Concept 4B for the reconstruction of 66th Street between 35W and Penn Avenue. Concept 4B is the plan approved at the December 9, 2014 City Council meeting that will result in the buyout and removal of 18 homes on the south side of the street.


Since that December 9th meeting, the City Council has a new member with Michael Howard replacing Sue Sandahl. So the balance of the decision rested on the new City Council Member. Howard voted in favor of amending the agenda to allow the discussion, but voted to affirm Concept 4B. So the decision from the December 9th meeting stands.


Debate over the issue was intense. Council Member Garcia called the move "disrespectful" and Council Member Fitzhenry said it set a bad precedent and criticized the sudden nature of the action, without advance notice to the public. Elliott said he meant no disrespect and called into question criticisms of his motives. Elliott said responses at open houses ran 2 to 1 against taking of homes for Concept 4B.


The end result, of course, was no change to the 66th Street reconstruction plans.


A Proud Community Booster

Organic Lawns by Lunseth supports Wood Lake Nature Center benefit


Organic Lawns by Lunseth, a lawn services company that calls the Penn Central of Richfield neighborhood home, has stepped forward as a sponsor of the Wood Lake Nature Center benefit dinner being held on Friday, April 24. Support by local businesses helps keep our community strong.


Lunseth Lawn Care provides a variety of lawn and landscaping services for both commercial and residential accounts. The residential division offers 100% organic fertilizing and integrated pest management services, both of which have a more positive impact on the environment. This fact is one reason Organic Lawns by Lunseth is a good sponsorship partner for Wood Lake Nature Center.


If you're considering a lawn care service, you can receive outstanding service and keep your business local by contacting Organic Lawns by Lunseth by clicking here.  


Thanks to a Community Partner

Penn Cycle donates bike for Wood Lake Nature Center benefit dinner 

Herb Perry with Pat Sorenson
Darlene Perry receiving bike from Penn Cycle's Sarah

Penn Cycle is in the "Good Deeds for the Community Spotlight" today. Our local Penn Central of Richfield bike dealer donated a bike to help raise funds to benefit Wood Lake Nature Center. The bike is part of a drawing with all ticket sales going to help Wood Lake. Tickets are available for $1 apiece at Wood Lake, 6710 Lakeshore Drive, Richfield. The drawing for the bike will be held at the Wood Lake Nature Center benefit dinner on Friday, April 24. (Need not be present at the dinner to win the bike.) For more information about the dinner or to reserve tickets, visit www.woodlakenaturecenter.org or call Wood Lake at 612-861-9365. 


Friends of Wood Lake Nature Center board members Herb and Darlene Perry worked with Pat Sorenson, owner of Penn Cycle, for the donation of the bicycle. Thanks to all involved for being great community members.


Funding source secured

New pedestrian-level lights planned for Penn Avenue 


Click here to download Penn Avenue lighting plan

A special neighborhood meeting was held on Tuesday, February 10 to reveal plans for the installation of pedestrian-level lighting along the commercial district of Penn Avenue in Richfield. Karen Barton of the City of Richfield Community Development Department presented the plans along with Craig Churchward of Avenue Design Partners, a consulting firm with expertise in landscape architecture and transportation design. Plans are moving forward to install new lighting that offers a more aesthetically pleasing appearance with a shepard's hook design.


Ms. Barton reports that the City has applied for Federal funds to move ahead with this project. Funds in the amounts of $60,000 for purchasing lights and benches and $60,000 for installation will allow this project to proceed this spring or summer. This project will serve as a visible sign that improvements and investments to the streetscape of Penn Avenue are taking place. For a number of years, our Penn Central of Richfield neighborhood association has advocated the installation of lighting that offers a more ornamental appearance. The addition of benches makes the area more pedestrian friendly, another positive enhancement toward the revitalization of the neighborhood. 


In looking to the future of Penn Avenue, Mr. Churchward mentioned creating a "vacation experience" design. He asked those attending the meeting to recall an interesting place they have visited while on vacation. The idea would be to capture some of those elements and design them into the local neighborhood. In designing a fun and vibrant environment, you create a place that becomes a destination that draws people. 


The lighting and benches are just the beginning of improvements that will happen along Penn Avenue in coming years.  Plans are for Penn Avenue, which is a county road, to be redeveloped by Hennepin County at some future date. When that happens, it will allow for a redesign of the road itself as well as sidewalks and bike paths. The exact timing for a rebuild of Penn Avenue by the County is undetermined, but attendees at the meeting expressed a wish for the County to make Penn Avenue a higher priority.





Plans are to install lighting with this Shepard's Hook design, along Penn Avenue.


Light poles would include mounting hardware for banners.


While the poles wouldn't initially have flower baskets, they could be equipped to be "irrigation ready" to allow for flowers at a future date. This irrigation system would allow for daily watering during hot summer days.



Photos and the PDF accompanying this article have been provided by Avenue Design Partners.


Parking lot provision

City Council Amends Penn Avenue Overlay District


At its December 9th meeting, the Richfield City Council amended the Penn Avenue Overlay District with a provision allowing municipal parking lots. The amendment passed with a 5-0 vote.


This amendment, while not impacting the neighborhood in the near term, addresses an important issue in the neighborhood. Currently the Penn Central of Richfield commercial district is characterized by having many small parking lots dedicated to specific businesses. Some businesses have no parking at all. This situation limits the neighborhood as a pedestrian friendly area where a person could park once and walk to several stores. A municipal lot could help correct this issue. 


It should be noted that there are currently no plans to add a municipal parking lot. But the amendment open the possibility and encourages discussion of adding such a lot in the future.


Gateway Monument Design Reviewed
Installation scheduled for Penn Avenue and other entry points 


As part of the Crosstown Commons reconstruction, funds were designated for the design and installation of gateway monuments on arterial streets at the Richfield/Minneapolis border, including Penn Avenue in the Penn Central of Richfield neighborhood. A task force has been reviewing designs and slogans in recent months, and concepts were presented to the City Council. The design shown above uses a classic look with the name "Richfield" stylized in a fashion reminiscent of the former Richfield Bank and Trust name. 

The installation of gateway monuments is a great idea. Visitors to our city too often mistake Richfield for one of our neighbors. That's not a good thing. These gateway monuments are slated for the northern border of Richfield, but it would be beneficial to also instrall gateway monuments on the border with Edina and on the 494 border with Bloomington. Guests to Richfield should not confuse the Southdale Square area with Edina or the Best Buy office with Bloomington, which happens with too much frequency.


Suburban versus urban living

Does Richfield offer the best of both worlds? 


The Star Tribune recently ran an interesting article about a trend where younger people, often times young families, are increasingly choosing the central cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul rather than suburban communities. This trend has been a reversal of historical patterns. To see the article, please click here.

While very interesting, the article divided the metropolitan area into only two categories, urban (meaning the central cities) and suburban (meaning everyone else). The article made no distinction between inner ring suburbs and outer ring suburbs. That was too bad because there really is a deeper story to tell.

Which brings us to the question, where does Richfield fit in? Interestingly enough, Richfield seems to be experiencing growth that's similar to the central cities. There is a pattern of more young people and younger families choosing Richfield as their home. By certain measures, Richfield is beating Minneapolis in the youth movement. According to the U.S. Census, Richfield has the largest percentage of residents under the age of 5 among all communities that border Richfield. The percentages are Richfield 7.5%, Minneapolis, 6.9%, Bloomington 5.4% and Edina 5.4%. A quick check with Richfield school enrollments confirms this trend where the classes at younger ages are growing.

So why are young people choosing more urban living? One reason is that they like the walkability of urban areas where you don't have to drive to go to a store, dining establishment or park. That characteristic fits right in with living in Richfield. With Richfield's local stores, neighborhood parks and quiet residential streets, Richfield scores equally as well as the central cities.

But here's the best part, Richfield matches the central cities in many quality-of-life measures, yet offers benefits that the central cities can't match. As an example, the size of Richfield gives it a small town feel where it's easier to build community.  People in Richfield really can connect with one another more easily through volunteerism, school activities and civic involvement. If you want to have an impact on the community, Richfield is accessible, where Minneapolis is much more overwhelming and bureaucratic due to its size. 

Richfield offers a unique blend that combines the best of urban and suburban living. It is a feature that we should capitalize on in promoting Richfield as the best place to live, work and do business.

What do you think? Offer a comment on our Penn Central of Richfield Facebook page


Renovated firestation displays Penn Central name

New look on firestation adds color and contemporary appeal 

Richfield Fire Department
Penn Avenue Richfield Fire Station

The Penn Avenue Richfield firestation is looking great with its new exterior. Thanks to the City of Richfield and the Richfield fire department for investing in this upgrade, which adds to the visual appeal of the neighborhood. The red exterior adds a nice color that invigorates the avenue, and the overall exterior appearance looks fresh and contemporary. 

We also appreciate that the neighborhood's Penn Central name appears on the building. This is another step in helping us build our community identity. We would like to thank Richfield Fire Chief Wayne Kewitsch in working with us to make that possible. Thanks to all!


Introducing a New Penn Central Business

Twin Cities AutoSpot can customize your ride 

TC AutoSpot in Richfield
Eric Froemming of Twin Cities AutoSpot

Normally when we talk about new businesses in the Penn Central neighborhood, it's a business on Penn Avenue. But tucked away on the Oliver Avenue side is a new business called Twin Cities AutoSpot. The business is located at 6540 Penn Avenue South (just north of 66th street) and is owned by Eric Froemming. Twin Cities AutoSpot is an automotive customization shop that can perform a range of services to make your ride more enjoyable, including audio and electronic upgrades, window tinting, mechanical repairs, automotive detailing and interior renewal.

Recently while talking with Eric, he mentioned that installation of remote starters has been a big seller, especaily with the the extremely cold winter this year. A remote starter allows people to get into a nicely warmed car in these frigid winter days, rather than a chilly car with stiff, cold seats. Many people were buying remote starters as Christmas gifts. In his shop, Eric has a signboard mentioning you can get $20 off the price of a remote starter installation when you LIKE the Twin Cities AutoSpot Facebook page

Although new in the area, Eric has been an enthusiastic member of the Penn Central business community. He actively participated in our Open Streets at Penn Fest event, hosting a Vikings party in his shop. Penn Central of Richfield is pleased to have Eric and Twin Cities AutoSpot as members of the community.

If you'd like to chat with Eric about any of his services (especially that remote starter installation) call him at  612-207-4588 or check out his website by clicking here.


A really cool thing to do!
Mercedes Lenort from Posters on Board takes the plunge 

Richfield woman takes Polar Plunge

Wearing pajamas and with a teddy bear in hand, Mercedes Lenort from Posters on Board in Richfield experienced a harsh, cold reality on Saturday, March 1st. But it wasn't a bad thing. In fact, it was a really cool thing (cool in more ways than one).Mercedes participated in the Polar Plunge at Lake Calhoun, helping raise funds for Special Olympics

As you may recall, the day of Mecedes' plunge was not a typical March day. It was a brutally cold day with more of those polar vortex winds that we've experienced this winter. When asked what it is like to jump into icy cold lake water, Mercedes replies: "ABSOLUTE SHOCK!" She says a person can't wait to get out. "It's like a giant ice cube going down your back." 

The March 2014 jump at Lake Calhoun was her third year of participating in the event, although this year was the coldest ever. Nevertheless, she plans to do it again next year. Mercedes says it's a really great cause and a lot of fun. This year she raised over $1,000 for Special Olympics.

So what encouraged Mecedes to do it the first time? As a volunteer with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, she went to watch the event with her little sister in 2011. The event was filled with such excitement and energy that she decided to give it a try in 2012. She's been jumping ever since. 

According to Mercedes, part of the fun is all the people who dress up in costume. Mercedes and her friend shopped at Arc's Value Village in Richfield to pick out their attire for the day. The winning outfit was pink pajamas.

Mercedes say doing the Polar Plunge is simply part of her passion for getting involved in volunteer projects and fundraisers that benefit others. It's just a part of what motivates her. 

Penn Central of Richfield would like to thank Mercedes for being a great representative of our community. 


Gardening Inspiration for a Great Cause

Seventh annual Bright Gardens tour benefits Fraser School


The seventh annual Bright Gardens for Fraser Tour was held on Saturday, July 21 in historic St. Paul neighborhoods. Guests of the tour saw inspiring ideas for plant arrangements and outdoor living. The works of local artists were also on display for even more creative inspiration. Proceeds from the garden tour benefit Fraser, a non-profit that serves people with special needs. Fraser is headquartered in the Penn Cental of Richfield neighborhood.

Photo credit to Fraser School. See more photos from the garden tour by clicking here.

For more information on how you can be a part of next year's garden tour, please click here.

Penn Central of Richfield Members In the 4th of July Parade

Woof Central at 4th of July Parade
These Woof Central Happy Hounds rode in style
Davanni's must have been on a delivery
Penn Auto Care in a classic ride
Penn Auto Care in a sky blue classic car
Ideal Auto Glass looks good

On a steamy and hot July 4th, Penn Central of Richfield members make their way down the Richfield 4th of July parade route.

Woof Central, the new dog care opening at 6315 Penn Avenue South, Richfield, joined the community celebration. The Woof Central van led the way with a legion of walkers and a couple of canines riding in style in a wagon.

Davanni's was in the parade, but the slow photographer only got the back leg of a Davanni's representative running down the street.  Next year we promise a better photo!

Penn Auto Care, a locally owned and operated car service center at 6724 Penn Avenue South, Richfield, looked cool as they rode down the street in a classic sky blue car.

Ideal Auto Glass rode by in this handsome green van.

Thanks to Penn Central members for taking part.  Here's hoping to see more Penn Central members in next year's parade.


Spirit of Entrepreneurship is Alive & Well
Prospective Business Owners Tour Penn Central of Richfield's Avenue of Opportunities Open House


The Avenue of Opportunites Open House showed the spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well in Richfield, Minnesota, on Saturday, May 19th. Prospective business owners stopped by to see available commercial spaces in the Penn Central of Richfield area.  The First National Bank of the Lakes, 6613 Penn Avenue South, Richfield, served as the communications center. From there, guests had a chance to visit vacant storefronts and office spaces along the avenue.

In the photo on the left, the following individuals were on hand.  Pictured from left to right, Steve Lindgren of the Richfield Chamber of Commerce, Rod Johnson of the First National Bank of the Lakes, Gordon Hanson of Richfield, Dawn (an Avenue of Opportunities guest), David Gepner of Richfield, Former Richfield Mayor Marty Kirsch and Rob Smolund of the Minnesota Consortium of Community Developers.

In the photo on the right, Rod Johnson is with a couple looking to potentially relocate their business to Penn Central of Richfield.

The Penn Central of Richfield group would like to extend its thanks to the Richfield Chamber of Commerce, the First National Bank of the Lakes, the Metro IBA and Rob Smoland. First Ward Richfield City Council Member Pat Elliott was also on hand to meet and greet participants at the event. All property owners who opened their spaces for touring are also to be thanked.

The Avenue of Opportunities Open House was another effort by the grassroots Penn Central of Richfield group to promote neighborhood.  The group's mission is to work for a positive future filled with vitality for the area. 


Expansion planned

Fireside Pizza wants to add party room and enlarge space 

Fireside Pizza Richfield

The Richfield Planning Commission voted to approve an addition to Fireside Pizza, 6736 Penn Avenue South, Richfield, at its August 11 meeting. The Planning Commission's recommendation will go before the full City Council. Fireside Pizza plans to enlarge its dining area and add a party room. Being a homegrown independent business, Fireside Pizza is a landmark in the Penn Central of Richfield neighborhood. We really like seeing this expansion of a local favorite. Watch this website for updates on the progress of the expansion. Check out Fireside Pizza by clicking here.


Adding color to the corner
Thanks to Lunseth Lawn Care for this bounty of blooms

Flowers Lundseth Lawn Care

The next time you're at the corner of Penn and 64th, take a look at the southwest corner. Our friends at Lunseth Lawn Care planted this beautiful display of flowers in these containers. It's often touches like this that can dress up the neighborhood. Lunseth Lawn Care is a Penn Central of Richfield business. So if you have lawn care needs, it's a great idea to do business close to home. To check out Lunseth Lawn Care's services, click here.

Meet the new owner of Signs by Tomorrow

Welcoming Ambro Alvarado to the neighborhood

Ambro Alvarado of Signs by Tomorrow

A change of ownership has brought Ambro Alvarado to the helm at Signs by Tomorrow, 6442 Penn Avenue So., Richfield. Signs by Tomorrow creates custom signs for both outdoor and indoor applications, including event, architectural, directional, commercial and other purposes. The product selection ranges from simple temporary signs to elaborate permanent ones. Truth be told, if you have a need for signs, banners or displays, chances are Signs by Tomorrow can create what you need. Stop by the store to welcome Ambro to the neighborhood. Check out his website at www.signsbytomorrow.com/richfield or call 612-869-0126.


Two departures from the avenue

Uncommon Sports Cards and Brueggers on Penn Avenue close 

We really prefer to welcome new businesses to the neighborhood, but sometimes we must acknowlege the departure of businesses. Two highly valued members of the Penn Central of Richfield community have closed shop recently, namely Uncommon Sports Cards and Brueggers. We are sad to see both of them gone.

Uncommon Sports Cards Closing

Uncommon Sports Cards

We watched Uncommon Sports Cards grow up on Penn Avenue, relocating several times to larger spaces.The shop was always an active and involved member of the business community, including a good participant at Penn Fest. During the last two Open Streets at Penn Fest celebrations, Uncommon Sports Cards brought in popular sports celebrities, Bob Lutesema in 2012 and Jake Reed in 2013. The shop fell victim to the challenges of running a small business. We will surely miss Uncommon Sports Cards.

Brueggers Bagels Richfield Closed

The lights suddenly went out and the signs came down at the Richfield location of Brueggers on Penn and 66th. No official word has been announced from the operator. Brueggers was also a good participant at Open Streets at Penn Fest, sending their Brueggers mascot out on the streets to welcome visitors.


Penn Central activists receive Wood Lake honor
Herb and Darlene Perry receive Members of the Year Award 

Wood Lake Nature Center Richfield MN

Herb and Darlene Perry received the Friends of Wood Lake Nature Center (also known as FOWL) Members of the Year Award at the recent annual benefit dinner for Richfield's nature center. Herb has been an organizer of Open Streets at Penn Fest and volunteer for other Penn Central of Richfield activities. Herb and Darlene are also both members of the Friends of Wood Lake Board of Directors. The FOWL Member of the Year Award is given to people who show extraordinary dedication toward working for the benefit of Wood Lake Nature Center. Thanks to Herb and Darlene for being great citizens in making Richfield a better place to live!



Year In Review

2012 was a big year of milestones and highlights in Penn Central of Richfield 

The year 2012 was a very active one for the Penn Central of Richfield community.  Many exciting new changes, milestones and achievements occured over the past year.  Here are a few of the highlights:


Ralph's Shoe Service, after being forced from Southdale shopping center, finds a new home on at 6623 Penn Avenue South, Richfield. Owner Bill Roase finds his new business home to be more welcoming and flexible for an independent business. 


Aida, a Mediterranean-cuisine restaurant, opens in the old Taco Bell location at 2208 West 66th Street (Penn and 66th). The food receives rave reviews in local media including the Star Tribune.


CVS Pharmacy opens in a new building at Penn and 66th.  The development also includes an expanded and more pedestrian friendly sidewalk with new tree and shrub plantings to enhance the aesthetics of the area.


The Penn Central neighborhood group sponsored an Avenue of Opportunities event to showcase vacant storefront and office space to prospective business owners. Two commercial spaces were filled as a result of the event.


Woof Central, a daycare and boarding service for canine companions, opened at 6315 Penn Avenue South in late summer. The business fills a need for people who want their dogs to be active and social during the day while they are away at work. The business is a local independent owned by Richfield residents Lori and Don Swatala.


The Penn Central of Richfield neighborhood introduced a new logo.  The tagline represents the purpose of the group, which is to build community and vitality in both the business district and residential neighborhoods in the area. The logo was designed by Richfield resident Kevin Klos.


The fifth annual Penn Fest was a huge success. The event became an Open Streets event with Penn Avenue closed to vehicles and open to walking, biking, sports, music, arts and many other fun activities. A estimated 7,000 people turned out to be a part of this landmark event in Richfield.


A big highlight of Open Streets at Penn Fest was the live BMX bike exhibitiion held on the street. The crowd filled the street as extreme bikers did acrobatic flips in the air. This activity was sponsored by Penn Cycle.


As an example of a true business success story, Uncommon Sports Cards continued their growth by moving into their third and largest space yet in the Penn Central of Richfield district. The spacious new store has a wide collection of sports and gaming cards.
No doubt! 2012 was quite a year for the Penn Central of Richfield community. Stay tuned for exciting new developments in 2013!


New plantings on city properties

City of Richfield landscapes in front of liquor store and watertower


Thanks to the City of Richfield for its efforts in enhancing the look of the Penn Central neighborhood. The city recently installed new sidewalks and landscaping in front of the liquor store and watertower. The photos above show plantings in front of Richfield's Penn Avenue liquor store. The landscaping dresses up the appearance of the avenue and is a great step forward in enhancing the Penn Central of Richfield neighborhood. As a side note to the landscape designers, thanks for using mulch as opposed to rock for most of the landscaping. Mulch has a softer, more friendly look, plus is less likely to get kicked around and litter the parking lot!  

A Penn Central of Richfield success story!

Uncommon Sports Cards moves to bigger storefront ... AGAIN!

Co-owner Terry Huemmer
New expanded location at 6628 Penn Avenue SSo.

Uncommon Sports Cards in on the move again! They just recently moved to a new larger space at 6628 Penn Avenue South, Richfield. And this moving habit is starting to set a pattern. The local shop has been on the move a number of times in recent years, always moving to larger spaces to accommodate a growing business. Most recently, Uncommon Sports Cards was on the west side of Penn Avenue in the center that houses the Homestead Pickin' Parlor.  Now you'll find them directly across the street on the west side.

According to Terry Huemmer, she and her husband Rick have owned the business for about ten years. But the business is about twenty-five years old overall.

The business offers cards for baseball, football, basketball, hockey and more, plus gaming cards for POKEMON and Yu-Gi-Oh. The business runs a couple programs to reward kids, including TOPPS OF THE CLASS where kids can bring in their report cards for a free pack of cards and Baseball Card Clubhouse where scouts and baseball teams can participate.

Uncommon Sports Cards plans to feature celebrity guests in the future. Watch this site for more details.

18 homes to be acquired
Richfield City Council votes to adopt 66th Street reconstruction plan 4B

66th Street today

Many city council meetings are frankly rather sleepy affairs. Often times, they are meetings filled with bureaucratic details and mundane policy decisions. But the Richfield City Council meeting on Tuesday, December 9 was very much the opposite. On this night, the Richfield Council had a very significant issue to decide, one that would impact the community for decades to come.
At hand was the decision to adopt a 66th Street reconstruction plan that would expand the street to include better sidewalks, cycle tracks, boulevards, and improved lanes for motorized vehicles; or limit the reconstruction to a smaller footprint that would restrict many of those enhancements. What made the vote tough is that 18 homes on the south side of the street would have to be taken to proceed with the more elaborate plan, often referred to as Plan 4B. The Council voted 3 to 2 to adopt Plan 4B, with Council Members Sandahl, Garcia and Fitzhenry voting yes, and Council Member Elliott and Mayor Goettel voting no.
Richfield Transportation Engineer Jeff Pearson opened the discussion with a review of the process that had transpired. Pearson mentioned that the options of a three lane roadway and a low impact design were seriously considered, but ultimately abandoned in favor of Plan 4B, which most recently had earned the unanimous support of the Richfield Transportation Commission.
Thirteen residents addressed the City Council in an open comments session, almost evenly divided between favoring and opposing Plan 4B. Sean O'Leary, chair of the Richfield Bike Advocates, spoke first, strongly urging approval of Plan 4B.  Ted Weidenbach, a member of the Transportation Commission, said the Council was making a "75 year decision" with a long term impact on the community. He characterized the stretch of 66th Street from 35W to Penn as "not safe for anyone." Jerri Haaven was the first speaker who opposed Plan 4B and the taking of homes for 66th Street reconstruction. She worried about "those who are left behind after the dust settles" from this project. Hayden Brockman spoke for a neighbor whose home will be acquired. Brockman, whose home won't be acquired, currently lives in a house that's the second one away from the street, but she worries how being the first house will affect her future equity. The open session seesawed back and forth between pro and con speakers with regard to plan 4B.
Then it was the City Council's turn to speak. Here is a summary of their comments in the order they spoke:
Mayor Debbie Goettel expressed a wish for revisiting the 3 lane option. She said we should proceed with painting the street in a three-lane fashion and see what happens. According to the Mayor: "We need a road diet." She also voiced concern about losing 18 homes. 
Council Member Pat Elliott, whose ward includes the homes in question, believes Plan 4B is not going to decrease traffic, but rather increase it. He was also concerned about what he described as the sudden notion to take the homes, saying the idea only became apparent about 6 months ago. Elliott feels Richfield is paying a price for incompetent decisions by MN DOT regarding Crosstown reconstruction. He firmly says Plan 4B is not going to work and he has no belief that it is going to increase safety.
Council Member Sue Sandahl said we are making a 50 to 75 year decision. With only two routes spanning Richfield from east to west, she believes Plan 4B is necessary. She cited how staff had said the three lane option won't work. She also believes the medians, boulevards and trees planned for the new roadway will have a traffic calming effect.
Council Member Edwina Garcia described how Richfield has changed over the years, going from a farming community to a bedroom community to what it is today. She suggested this decision is just one more change as the City moves into the future. She described the acquisitiion process that homeowners will experience, believing it is a very fair process. She said: "I don't want to make a short decision for only 25 years. We have to make tough decisions if we're going to sit up here."
After the first four members spoke, it was apparent that they split two to two in their opinions. It all hung in the balance with Council Member Tom Fitzhenry.
Council Member Tom Fitzhenry said: "If we don't take the 18 homes, we impact a lot more homes." He expressed concern about the prospect of taking twelve feet of the front lawn of the homes on the north side of the street, which would happen with the low impact plan. He mentioned his days as a police officer in Richfield, saying he recalled many accidents on what is a dangerous road. He said: "I can find no other way than to agree with 4B."
Once Fitzhenry spoke, it was apparent that Plan 4B would pass. The vote was merely a formality of what was to come.
After the vote, the crowd that had gathered filed out quietly.


Neighborhood meeting

Rep. Keith Ellison pledges to work with Richfield community 

Keith Ellison Richfield
Rep. Keith Ellison at Penn Central of Richfield Meeting

Representative Keith Ellison met with guests of the Penn Central of Richfield Third Thursday meeting on December 19th at Hope's Siver Spoon Restaurant. Rep. Ellison, whose district includes Richfield, said he wants this meeting to be the first of an ongoing conversation to help boost the vitality of the community and Penn Central business district.

Starting with a comment about the Twin Cities region as a whole, Rep. Ellison said the Minneapolis/St. Paul area has been identified as one of the strongest post recession economies in the country. Economic vitality is bouncing back here with more vigor than in many parts of the country.

With many small independent businesses, the Penn Central of Richfield area could look to federal and state government programs for tools that spur business growth, according to Ellison. The economic tools range from loan money for financing operations to technical assistance in areas such as selling abroad. He said it is very realistic for small businesses to engage in foreign trade, and cited a recent trade mission to Saudi Arabia where small Minnesota businesses benefitted. Small businesses can also look to agencies such as the Small Business Administration and the Minnesota Investment Fund for assistance.

Penn Central Committee Member Tom Rublein described a situation where Richfield is landlocked on all sides by larger neighbors and there is little open land for development. Yet Richfield has some unique advantages that it needs to capitalize on. According to Rublein, close proximity to the airport is one advantage. Richfield could promote its close proximity to the airport as a prime space for offices that have frequent visitors coming from the airport. 

Gordon Hanson, another community volunteer, said an age-old dilemma in redeveloping the neighborhood is balancing the desire to retain small independent businesses with the economic reality that new development often comes with higher rent and lease rates. "We'd like to reinvigorate the district, but we'd also like to keep the small independents that add character to the neighborhood and support community programs such as youth baseball leagues," mentioned Hanson. Rep. Ellison said that is a difficult problem and described a similar situation in northeast Minneapolis.

Richfield Chamber of Commerce President Angie Schaefbauer mentioned that her organization is actively working to promote the image of Richfield and its business assets. One recent initiative is working with the tourism board to promote Richfield hotels to large businesses that bring in people for workshops and conferences. She cited examples where certain businesses used hotels outside of Richfield because they seemed unaware of the hotels available within Richfield.

Rep. Ellison called this meeting a good start and promised to continue working with local Richfield interests. He mentioned the idea of organizing a small business roundtable to brainstorm ideas for supporting and growing business. He would like to encourage organizations such as the Small Business Administration and Greater MSP to participate to offer their expertise. 

Guests at the meeting thanked Rep. Ellison for his willingness to meet and for his offer of future involvement in the community.


Penn Central Year In Review

2013 marked a year of great activity in the neighborhood 

From new business openings and a bridge renovation to property improvements and a bigger Open Streets at Penn Fest, the 2013 saw a lot of activity on the avenue. Here is a brief review of a few highlights.


The second annual Open Streets at Penn Fest (and 6th annual Penn Fest in general) was held in September. Despite slightly cooler weather, it was a sky-high success, with a return of BMX Bike demos, music in the street, a car classic car show, 5K run to benefit the schools, and more. New this year waa a flea market with numerous vendors selling their wares.


Open Streets at Penn Fest also saw an expanded range of foods served on the avenue.


Celebity appearances such as this one with former Vikings player Jake Reed at Uncommon Sports Cards added to the fun.


New businesses opened in the area, such as Penn Nails at 6329 Penn Avenue So and Twin Cities AutoSpot at 6540 Oliver. More new businesses opened in 2013 that we will be introducing in the coming weeks.


The Penn Avenue Bridge connecting Richfield and Minneapolis was closed for several months as it underwent deck reconstruction. The new bridge features wider sidewalks and turn lanes to enhance both pedestrian and vehicular traffic.


Arc's Value Village completed it's renovation with a significant upgrade of its exterior. The work is now finished. Here is a photo of the upgrade in progress.


The Richfield firestation at Penn and 64th received an extensive remodeling both inside and out. The new exterior features a contemporary look that complements the neighborhood.

New look coming for area firestation

Penn Central of Richfield Firestation to be renovated and modernized


The Richfield Firestation at Penn and 64th will be updated in both appearance and function in the coming months. Enhancements will be made to both the exterior and interior of the building to modernize it. While the firestation design has not been finalized, the artist drawing shows a possible exterior treatment being considered. On the inside of the building, modern conveniences will be upgraded to accommodate firefighters in doing their job. Additional updates will be posted on this website as the project proceeds.  For information about the Richfield Fire Department, please click here.

Concept presented at October Third Thursday Meeting 

Richfield resident Joe Hoover proposes community gardening initiative for Penn & 66th

Joe Hoover made a pitch at the October 18th Third Thursday meeting for an initiative to brighten the Penn and 66th intersection with a community gardening effort. Joe, who once worked as a community organizer, has experience in spearheading community gardening efforts in St. Paul. He stated that sucessful community gardens need to be in high profile locations where residents and visitors take notice. Close to Richfield, successful community gardens have been created and maintained in the 54th and Lyndale business district and in the Kenny Park neighborhood of south Minneapolis.

Joe's proposal is to engage businesses, property owners and community groups to work for gardens at the corners of the Penn and 66th intersections. Plant selections would be primarily drought tolerant, low maintenance species that are survivors in nature.

The Penn Central of Richfield group encouraged Joe to pursue this vision.

Featured in Star Tribune

Congratulations, Aida


We're reserving most space on the website homepage for Open Streets at Penn Fest right now, but we had to congratulate Aida, 2208 West 66th Street, Richfield, for the great article that appeared in the Star Tribune recently. The article was about surprisingly good restaurant choices in the suburbs, and Aida led the article. Aida is the new Mediterranean restaurant in the Penn Central neighborhood at Penn and 66th. To read the article, click the Star Tribune link here.

Thanks to Wagner's Greenhouse for donating plants

Adding a Little Color to the Avenue


Have you noticed the planters in front of Hub Hobby and Arc's Value Village?  This summer is the second year these planters have been dressing up the avenue.  They're one more way to add some color and life to the neighborhood. Penn Central of Richfield volunteers David Gepner and Tom Rublein planted the flower again this year. Plants were donated by Wagner's Greenhouse, 6024 Penn Avenue South, Minneapolis. Thank you Wagner's for helping us beautify the community!

A look back at a summertime landscape

Thanks to O'Neil Dental for Beautifying the Penn Central Neighborhood!


The Penn Central of Richfield neighborhood would like to recognize and thank the O'Neil Dental Center, 6945 Penn Avenue South, Richfield for its beautiful and colorful gardens and landscaping from this past summer. These photos offer a glimpse of the incredible arrays of colors that enhanced the dental center. Investing in the appearance of both residential and business properties makes our community more inviting for all. Way to go O'Neil Dental Center!

Penn Central of Richfield - Your Neighborhood Mainstreet
Building Community in Richfield, Minnesota