The Anoka City Council approved new construction at a corner that has been in desperate need of an upgrade.
In a 4-1 vote, the council approved the variance and site plan needed for the new building at the corner of Ferry Street and Highway 10.
Mayor Phil Rice was the dissenting vote, based on concerns about the look of the back of the proposed building.
MN Firearms will replace the old Sinclair gas station at 2520 Ferry Street with a new 3,000-square-foot building.
It will be used for firearms sales and training. MN Firearms is currently located in downtown Anoka, on Jackson Street, where it has been for the last four years after outgrowing its original space in Fridley, according to owner Mike Briggs.
The old gas station has been demolished, and MN Firearms hopes for construction on the new building to get underway in the next few weeks in time to open this fall.
The majority of MN Firearms business is offering the training required to get a conceal and carry permit.
According to Briggs, MN Firearms has been consistently training 100-125 people a week for conceal and carry permits. People come from across the state, as well as neighboring North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, to receive training at the Anoka site.
“We’re all about pushing the training, the safety and the law,” said Briggs, who has been an instructor since 2002. He also works as a private security contractor.
The variance allows for an increase in the front setback to 35 feet, from the typical 20-foot maximum on the west and 49.35 feet on the east.
According to Associate Planner Stephanie Rouse, the building is unique because it fronts both Ferry Street and Front Avenue.
Rice was concerned with the lack of visual appeal on the back of the building, which is quite long.
“We do have to be concerned with buildings that are going to be here for 60, or the next 160, years,” Rice said. “It’s really no better than a privacy fence, except that a privacy fence might have more character.”
The building is required to have additional brick wrapped along the north side of the building to match the east and west sides.
Rice was hoping to see brick added to the back of the building as well.
The variance and site plan were also considered by the Anoka Planning Commission.