Complex may shutter businesses

The proposed building would replace the Stadium Village site currently housing Big 10.

Pedestrians pass by the Big 10 Restaurant and Bar on Washington Avenue in Stadium Village on Wednesday afternoon. Big 10 sits on the site of a proposed apartment complex.

Joe Sulik

Pedestrians pass by the Big 10 Restaurant and Bar on Washington Avenue in Stadium Village on Wednesday afternoon. Big 10 sits on the site of a proposed apartment complex.

Benjamin Farniok

Like many other pockets of the University of Minnesota business area, a popular commerce hub could be razed to make room for an apartment complex.
 
 
Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors has drafted plans for a 27-story complex to replace the block currently home to Stadium Village staples Bun Mi Sandwiches, The Big 10 Restaurant and Bar, Village Wok and Espresso Expose.
 
 
The building would be located on the corner of Harvard Street Southeast and Washington Avenue Southeast and would contain up to 450 units, from studio apartments to four-bedroom apartments.
 
 
It would reach about 7 feet higher than the Moos Tower across the street, according to city documents.
 
 
Todd DuPont, co-owner at Big 10, said the business’s lease ends in 2019, and he hasn’t heard a timeline for a potential move-out.
 
 
When students and other customers ask about the closure, Dupont said, he’s been unable to answer their questions.
 
 
“I wish I knew a little bit more,” he said.
 
 
DuPont also said he had no intention of leaving the shop he’s run and owned for 30 years.
 
 
“You can’t replace history. When it’s gone, it’s gone,” he said.
 
 
Chris Ferguson, president of the Stadium Village Commercial Association, said he doesn’t want to see the businesses leaving the community unless they are compensated fairly.
 
 
“It’s important that they get treated well and are relocated or have the opportunity to move back,” he said.
 
 
Espresso Expose Owner Pat Weinberg said he made a deal last November with Harbor Bay to buy out his lease but added he didn’t have much bargaining power because his lease ends next year anyway.
 
 
“I don’t want to leave, but I feel like they’ve treated me fine,” Weinberg said.
 
 
While he won’t be able to employ all of the Espresso Expose staff at his other restaurant, the Purple Onion, he said longtime staff will make the jump.
 
 
Espresso Expose is a frequent stop for second-year aerospace engineering graduate student Alec Petersen.
 
 
“I guess I’m not surprised,” he said.
 
 
Others, like first-year kinesiology graduate student Holly Crane said she will miss the presence of a local coffee shop in Stadium Village.
 
 
“I like coming here,” she said, “I like that it isn’t Starbucks.”
 
 
Grace Erpenbach, an American studies and gender, women and sexuality studies sophomore and a manager at Espresso Expose, said she would be sad to see it close because it has become a mainstay for her and many other students, staff and faculty.
 
 
“I just don’t see the market for [the new building],” she said.