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What Should Go Here?: Eighth Avenue Corridor

A feature that asks residents how Hopkins should fill its vacant spaces.

has several exciting development projects on the horizon, but vacant properties still dot the community’s real estate landscape.

While there’s little doubt residents would like to fill those properties, they also offer the opportunity to remake Hopkins’ landscape.

In this feature, Patch asks you to imagine the future of these spaces.

This week, we’re taking a look at a corridor that involves several different pieces that planners hope can be united into one attractive package enticing people into Hopkins’ downtown.

What do you think would draw people downtown? Public art? A decorative archway? Retails stores? A hotel? Tell us in the comments below.

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Eighth Avenue Corridor

Park Nicollet Site (815 First St. S.), Elks Lodge (30 Eighth Ave. S.), Parking Lot 200 (Eighth Avenue, just south of Mainstreet), Johnson Building (810 First St. S.)

Current owner:

  • Parking Lot 200: City of Hopkins
  • Elks: Hopkins Elks
  • Park Nicollet: City of Hopkins (the property will be sold to Klodt Inc. later this year as part of a mixed-use development project)
  • Johnson Building: 5501 Building Company

Area: The west side of the avenue, which has been the focus of development discussions, has just under four acres of property:

  • Parking Lot 200: .45 acres
  • Elks: .45 acres
  • Park Nicollet: 1.2 acres (plus the .6-acre Lutheran Digest site on Ninth Avenue ) 
  • Johnson Building: 1.68 acres

Value:

  • Parking Lot 200: No value listed because it’s city owned.
  • Elks: $461,000 total for the three parcels that make up the property, according to Hennepin County property records.
  • Park Nicollet: $1.68 million was the last sale price, according to county records.
  • Johnson Building: $1.94 million market value, according to the county.

History: Eighth Avenue is central to the city’s long-term plans because of the Southwest Light Rail Transit stop planned just across Excelsior Boulevard from the corridor. The city wants to create an enticing “pedestrian seductive” streetscape that could lure light rail riders the few blocks over to Mainstreet.

  • Park Nicollet: The city snapped up the Park Nicollet site when the health care provider closed its clinic in 2009 as part of a consolidation effort in response to increasing numbers of unpaid medical bills. after soliciting proposals from developers. Planners originally expected the Park Nicollet site would contain a mix of retail and residential. However, the market has made finding retailers difficult. Klodt will begin by marketing the ground-floor space for both retail and so-called live-work studios for artists, insurance agents and other people who work and live in the same space. If it can’t fill the spaces that way, it will transform the units into ground-level apartments.
  • Elks: The Elks Lodge would offer numerous opportunities for creating a dynamic street scene—particularly when joined with the bordering city parking lot. But so far no one has been able to come up with a plan that would both offer an adequate return on investment and pay the Elks enough to replace the building, particularly in a prime spot like downtown Hopkins.
  • Johnson Building: This site is arguably even more important because of its potential to be an attractive gateway into the Eighth Avenue corridor. Planners have even pitched the property as the site of a future hotel. But it, too, has not yet found a redevelopment proposal that works.
Sue Metoxen May 15, 2012 at 02:15 AM
I would like to see a clinic or a convenience care clinic on the spot.
James Warden (Editor) May 15, 2012 at 02:39 AM
While Park Nicollet closed its clinic on Eighth Avenue, I wonder if something along the lines of a Minute Clinic would do well in one of the street-level spaces. It would probably take up much less space, and it's location near the LRT would be great for those who need to stop in for minor ailments and preventative care.
Carol May 15, 2012 at 04:59 PM
The main thing is to continue to attract/be attractive to excellent eating establishments. Other businesses will follow. Hopkins charm is that it's unique from all the other suburbs, because it doesn't feel like one. We're not trying to turn Hopkins into an outdoor mall; it is a town with a living Main Street. Main Streets are & should be unique. As an example if Nelson's Meats were to be willing to move to downtown, it would fit in on 8th. The thought of adding more of a tax base to Hopkins via apartments & condos can be seductive. But one of Hopkins’ charms is the small town, know your neighbor feel. We don’t want a Hoigaard Village. Short-term my recommendation is to think about other already existing local businesses who might integrate well into downtown Hopkins. During the interim temporary events & businesses would help beef up 8th street’s appeal: floral markets, interesting food trucks, children’s events/contests, animal events/contests, outdoor movies (old classics), outdoor traditional dances, 4H events, outdoor bingo etc. These would be easy enough to place in the currently under utilized parking lots on 8th street & accessible to rail riders (when & if the rail line is built) with little to no additional construction required & help cement Hopkins as a great place to stop & visit. Given time businesses will naturally be attracted to building in downtown Hopkins. We’re a unique & neighborly town. Let’s not put the cart before the horse.

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