Grocery stores to be allowed in two ports on Coon Rapids Boulevard

Food and related goods will become permitted uses in two ports on Coon Rapids Boulevard where they are not right now.

The Coon Rapids City Council Aug. 20 unanimously adopted an ordinance, which was recommended by the Coon Rapids Planning Commission, to change the code to allow food and related goods businesses in Port Wellness and Port Evergreen.

The Coon Rapids Boulevard Framework Plan approved by the council more than a decade ago targeted four areas on the boulevard, called ports, for development and redevelopment.

Port Wellness encompasses the area on the west end of the boulevard and includes Mercy Hospital, while Port Evergreen is located at the Northtown end of the boulevard.

According to Planner Scott Harlicker, in recent land use studies and resident surveys, the lack of a grocery store on Coon Rapids Boulevard keeps coming up.

While they are permitted uses in Port Campus Square and Port Riverwalk on the boulevard, they are not in Port Wellness and Port Evergreen, Harlicker wrote in a report to the commission.

Indeed, staff recently talked with a property owner in one of these two ports about leasing his building to a tenant that wanted to open a grocery store, but it was not allowed under code, he wrote.

Permitted in Port Riverwalk and Port Wellness are grocery stores or supermarkets, butcher shops, bakeries, candy stores, greengrocers and other specialty food and catering uses.

And allowed in all four ports are eating place which include delis, cafes, coffee shops, take-out establishments and restaurants, according to Harlicker.

As well, “general retail” uses, which cover the sale of items strictly for consumption, use and enjoyment off the premises, are also allowed in all four ports, Harlicker wrote.

“It is not clear why ‘food and related goods’ were separated from retail sales and made a prohibited use in ports Wellness and Evergreen,” he said.

In his view changing the code to allow food and related goods uses in ports Wellness and Evergreen “is reasonable as the land use impact of food sales is not significantly different from other retail sales,” Harlicker wrote.

The code change does not alter the current maximum building floor area of 20,000 square feet for such uses in the Riverwalk and Evergreen ports.

Allowing food and related goods in Port Wellness is consistent with the master plan that encourages commercial uses, while in Port Evergreen, allowing food and related goods is consistent with the plan’s policy of maintaining and strengthening it as a major commercial area, Harlicker stated in his recommendation.

At the Planning Commission public hearing on the code amendment in July, Larry Turnquist, who owns the Peterson Pinney property at 4151 Coon Rapids Blvd., which is in Port Wellness, told the commission that he is negotiating with a grocery store to lease part of the building.

Approval of the code amendment would allow him to move ahead with the negotiations, according to Turnquist.

While there was concern about a large big box grocery store locating in the two ports, which would not be consistent with the intent of those ports, most of the commission members concluded that including food and related goods as permitted uses in the Wellness and Evergreen ports would be a benefit to the city and the boulevard.

But to address the concern about a large store, the commission added language to the amendment that limited the size of the grocery store to 20,000 square feet.

Peter Bodley is at
peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

  • Pat Walker

    Port Wellness? You make me sick with all the dictating about what these property owners can and cannot do.
    Deflate your ego a bit and be grateful if some businesses can just survive the crushing taxes and forced regulations. Pat Walker, Anoka.

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