City approves Dinkytown apartment complex

The controversial complex will displace House of Hanson and several other businesses.

during a city council meeting \date\ at Minneapolis City Hall. The re-zoning of the Dinkytown area, which would allow the OPUS development project, was approved in a 9-4 vote.

Emily Dunker

during a city council meeting \date\ at Minneapolis City Hall. The re-zoning of the Dinkytown area, which would allow the OPUS development project, was approved in a 9-4 vote.

Meghan Holden

While construction crews start work on a six-story, 140-unit apartment complex this month, longtime Dinkytown business owners are saying their final goodbyes.

The Minneapolis City Council approved the development of the controversial apartment complex in Dinkytown last week, despite a committee vote against necessary rezoning. The full Council voted 9-4 in favor of the project.

House of Hanson, one of the 14th Avenue Southeast businesses displaced by the mixed-use building, closed its doors Monday.

“All these people are my friends,” said Laurel Bauer, House of Hanson owner. “It’s hard to be separated.”

 The project, proposed by Opus Group, will replace several businesses and surface parking lots along 14th Avenue Southeast and Fifth Street Southeast.

Community members who attended the Council meeting were divided on the decision.

Representatives from the Save Dinkytown group held signs opposing the rezoning. Using slogans like “It’s Dinkytown, not Megatown,” Save Dinkytown has long opposed the project, saying redevelopment will threaten the neighborhood’s culture and small business community.

“This is a very sad day,” said neighborhood resident Chris Valenty. “It’s an important small business area.”

Karen Anderson, who supported the project, said she was relieved by the results of the vote.

“We need more safe student housing on campus,” she said, “and this project does that.”

Third Ward Councilwoman Diane Hofstede, who represents the area, voted against the rezoning and said she is considering introducing a development moratorium for part of Dinkytown at the next Council meeting. The plan could put a hold on new projects in the area.

Hofstede did not provide additional details about the moratorium.

At a July 25 Zoning and Planning Committee meeting, Hofstede voiced opposition to the project. She said she wants to wait to make decisions about Dinkytown’s future until after the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association master plan is finalized this winter.

Dinkytown is “a part of the experience and legacy of students,” she said Friday.

Dinkytown Business Association President Skott Johnson said although the DBA supported the project, he agreed the small area plan should’ve been finished before developing the area.

“My thoughts changed as time went on,” he said.

Parking issues also made Johnson wary of the project, he said. The loss of the Fifth Street lot will intensify parking problems in the area and cause Dinkytown businesses to suffer, he said.

The surface parking lot will close on Aug. 8, following Duffy’s Dinkytown Pizza, which closed after the Council meeting.

Susan Duffy, co-owner of the parking lot and Duffy’s, said they are working on plans to reopen somewhere in the new complex’s planned 9,500 square feet of commercial space.

Opus plans to fill the building with four or five small businesses. Matt Rauenhorst, senior director of real estate development at Opus, said they haven’t decided on the businesses yet.

The yet-unnamed development is planned to open in fall 2014.

“We’re really excited to be moving forward,” Rauenhorst said. “We’ve believed in it all along.”

Saying goodbye

Closing the store that’s been in her family for more than 80 years is the hardest thing Bauer has had to do.

Although Bauer said she was happy with the Council’s decision to move forward with the project, leaving Dinkytown didn’t come without tears.

“It’s been a very special day,” she said Monday.

Bauer’s daughter Sara Buystedt flew in from California on Sunday night to say goodbye to the place she’s known all her life.

“This building has been a part of us forever,” Buystedt said. “It’s been a part of us forever.”

While cleaning out the store, the family found notes left hanging in the crevices of the shop from a former employee who died of a brain tumor a few years ago.

“She stood by me for 32 years,” Bauer said of the employee.

The special, personal touches of House of Hanson made it that much more loved by customers.

Ari Hoptman, University of Minnesota German, Scandinavian and Dutch lecturer, said he’s come to the small grocery store every day for 13 years.

“I’m going to miss this place,” he said with a sigh.

On its last day open, Hoptman stopped in three times to say goodbye to Bauer and the store.

His last purchase was a can of motor oil because it would last the longest, he said.

“We’re not saying goodbye,” Bauer said to Hoptman as he left the store. “We’ll never say goodbye.”