Anoka will entertain proposals for Woodbury House

Anoka will be asking for proposals for non-residential uses of the historical Woodbury House.

Anoka is seeking proposals for non-residential uses of the historical Woodbury House. File photo by Sue Austreng
Anoka is seeking proposals for non-residential uses of the historical Woodbury House. File photo by Sue Austreng

The Anoka City Council was able to have a look at request for proposals document designed by city staff during a June 24 work session.

“We want to try to gauge the interest for use of the property and in a month’s time find out what alternative uses for the property might be out there,” said Planning Director Carolyn Braun.

The Anoka Planning Commission is also working on zoning for the South Ferry Street corridor that will likely be voted on in August.

The request for proposals packet includes a wealth of information on the background and history of the property at 1632 S. Ferry St., “so people understand the importance of this structure to the community,” Braun said.

Tenants would have to abide by the facade easement already in place, which will not allow any changes to the exterior of the home.

The property is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Lea Johnson shared her idea for a fine dining restaurant at the Woodbury House.

Johnson and her husband Steve own Little Havana, a cigar shop on Jackson Street.

She told the council she has been working on a business plan for two years.

“A high-end restaurant could be the spark that moves this town to greatness,” Johnson said.

People are spending their money on upscale dining outside of Anoka, she said.

“There’s an abundance of places to go for a burger or wings, but not really anything in the area for a fine dining experience,” Johnson said.

Last month the council heard Liz and Tim Koch’s interest in relocating the Mad Hatter Tea room to the historic home on the Rum River.

While Councilmember Jeff Weaver has abstained from the discussion and any votes on the Woodbury House, he did say it was great to see so much interest in the it.

Weaver owns property next to the Woodbury House, which was also once owned by his parents.


While some wonder about parking for a commercial use at the Woodbury House, Braun said the easement that protects the property allows for more parking than many people might think.

Parking was part of the proposal for a condo project on the neighboring lot that while approved, was never developed, she said. The parking would have been located south of the curved driveway.

“The amount of parking needed will really depend on the use,” Braun said.

In addition to the tea room and upscale restaurant, she said there is also someone interested in turning the Woodbury House into a bed and breakfast.

Those proposals must be submitted to the city’s planning department by June 22.

For anyone interested in getting a look at the Woodbury House, it will be on the Anoka Historic Home and Garden Tour planned for Sunday, July 14. The tour is hosted by the Anoka County Historical Society and the Anoka Heritage Preservation Commission.

If the council doesn’t find a project on which it wishes to work, Braun said then the city would likely take steps to sell the Woodbury House as a single-family home.

To view and download the proposal package, visit

Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]