Sunday, June 27, 2010

BJ's Strip Club On West Broadway May Soon GO AWAY FOREVER (And Good Riddance)

Photo and blog post by John Hoff

Word comes that BJ's strip club--which squats in all its sad, neon squalor at the intersection of Washington Avenue and West Broadway--may soon GO AWAY FOREVER. There is a proposal before the City Council to replace BJ's with a French Meadow bakery and a "Surdyk's style" liquor store.

I assume "Surdyk's style" means the store would sell high-end gourmet products such as assorted cheeses, not just liquor.

For a copy of all the details of the proposal, click here.

It should be noted that even though Northside neighbors are nearly giddy about the possibility of the nasty strip club going away (there are persistent rumors of a stripper with an old bullet wound in her rear end, and the fact their marque sign persistently says NO COVER reveals far too much about the quality of the establishment) there are already doubts and objections about the plans, most of which center on the fact the proposed building is NOT two stories high.

The West Broadway Alive! plan (note objectionable mid-point punctuation, I've gone on about this issue recently, click here) specifies that new buildings on West Broadway should be...

...at least two stories. And the proposed development is NOT two stories.

My guest contributors are free to take another position on the matter, but for myself my position is clear: anything to get rid of BJ's strip club. This establishment lends a tawdry, vice-ridden, depressing air to an area which is the gateway to North Minneapolis. Honestly, if somebody wanted to bulldoze BJ's and put in a small trailer house selling tacos, I would get behind that idea. ANYTHING TO GET RID OF BJ's.

Naturally, there will be other positions articulated about this important matter of development--and I'm happy to sponsor that vital discussion on this blog--but I don't see my position shifting on this matter one little bit:

Two stories is a fine goal, but there are times one needs to compromise for the greater good. Getting rid of this slummy, low-end strip club is precisely that kind of moment.

44 comments:

Johnny Northside! said...

Just to show how committed I am to a free discussion about this matter, I wish to reproduce these points AGAINST the current proposal, which were circulated in an email that made its way to me.

Ultimately, I do not accept these arguments but I see them as substantive and well-articulated.
---------

1. This proposal goes against what was required in
the West Broadway ALIVE plan. There are quite a few ways that this does not follow the plan, but I will highlight the big point - the fact that the plan
specifically calls for 2-floors of commercial building
against the front of the lot, NOT 2-stories. This was specifically done to create higher density along the avenue and to invigorate the commercial corridor. The applicant is proposing a 1-story building for a majority of the avenue, with a mezzanine bumping up at the corner. He
says it looks like it is 2-stories, but it only does that on the corner, and even then, it misses the point.

2. The city JUST adopted the West Broadway ALIVE plan a year ago, after over a YEAR of community meetings, steering committee meetings, and neighborhood and commercial buy-in. This is being hailed as the first time that the residents of North Minneapolis actually got to shape the
planning policies of the city, instead of the umpteen times that plans have been forced on them by "businesses, developers, or city officials who know better than we do." To go against a major element of the plan NOW would be to throw away all of that hard work put in my hundreds of residents. (and think of the next projects
that will come along....)

3. Sure, the proposal is better than BJ's. The
developer is citing all sorts of reasons as to why they can't build 2-stories. (financial, since they would have to pay for an elevator for code; now they are saying it is aesthetically more in style with contemporary architecture..ugh!) I think we need to remember that this planning document was crafted to guide development so the avenue would improve in the long-term. NOT so we could have short-term solutions that we would come to regret
(and be too expensive to tear down and re-do) in 20 years.

4. You might want to note how the developer
constantly refers to this as the "Gateway to the North Loop", and really treats the fact that it is a "GATEWAY TO NORTH MINNEAPOLIS" as an afterthought. Read how they write about it, how they spoke about it in the hearing, and even look at the 2 major facades.... the prominent one for
them is on Washington. The one-story ugly one faces West Broadway. I brought this up at the hearing....they didn't seem to get it.

5. My last point is this: The planning guidelines for north Minneapolis are the Plan for Sustainable Growth and the West Broadway ALIVE plan.
Last time I checked, the plan for north Minneapolis was not "As long as it is better than what was there before."

Let's not settle for "acceptable", when what we need and deserve is GREAT!
---------------------------

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

As excited as I am for the prospect of a French Meadows bakery and a Surdyk's (or similar establishments) replacing BJ's, I believe that the current proposal is an absolute insult to North Minneapolis as a whole.

I'll be getting to my own detailed rebuttal soon, but that will be long enough to warrant a separate post.

Hans said...

At least the sign no longer says "Voted best strip club". What a joke...

I'd be happy with a vacant lot until someone can propose a financially viable 2 story development.

Shaun said...

I am not familar with zoning and the West Broadway plan, but I, too, am in favor of anything that gets rid of BJ's. It is a blight on our city and needs to go away. I am also excited at the possibility of a liquor store that is not Merwins. Perhaps I won't have to navigate the treacherous parking lot anymore.

M. Clinton said...

This is a tough one. I would LOVE to see BJ's gone, replaced with a higher end amenity. I think this also would naturally help Good Sports to distance itself from the negative stigma that was associated with the old Johnny A's. However, I have a reputation for having been quite hardline about following city planning documents regarding other issues in the city, and I do want to stay consistent in what I stand for.

The built form of our city will exist in timelines that will exceed those of any individual person or (likely but not always) business. That said, the reason the traditional built form of West Broadway and Washington Avenues were two story was for mixed use development with residential above commercial. With the current housing market, I don't think it is reasonable to expect them to develop mixed use at that location. And it certainly would be an unnecessary expenditure to add an elevator for a second floor of the store just for the sake of having a second floor to the store.

The danger here is precedent. Once this is allowed, then ANY developer has an argument to chuck the West Broadway Plan aside in the future and all of that planning went for naught. We might get a nice amenity at Broadway and Washington at the expense of inviting crappy design to infiltrate the rest of Broadway for decades. And to not allow that would legitimately give any developer a reason to cry discrimination.

I haven't yet formed a concrete opinion; however some initial thoughts are 1. Could the building be engineered such that a future second floor expansion would be possible when future market conditions are ready? 2. From a design stand point, the look and feel of a second floor at the corner is what is most important - I would need to see if the "bump up" for the mezzanine gives the building an appropriate look and feel.

My final thought though is that I find it insulting this property would be described as the gateway to the North Loop. Although I can see that perspective, I honestly have never thought of it that way. I guess gateways go both ways. They need to realize this too before such insults erode the political will of the community for their project.

M. Clinton said...

I just read all of the documents linked to this post. Ufdah - THAT took a while! In the end, I am now fully behind this project. There are inconsistencies, but I believe they can be worked out. The height of the building meets code for two stories. It is only considered a mezzanine because of the cut out floor and atrium on the interior. But if the look and feel of the building is two stores from the exterior, that is good enough for me.

It was the testimony of Don Gerberding that sold me. They have done two other projects in the area and those two projects I happen to like immensely. They have a track record we can look to - that is good. I fully support this (but do hope they have actual canopy trees over smaller ornamental trees - I know, I'm picky!)

NoMi Passenger said...

Master Development is the name behind the proposed development. Seeing the work they have already done in revitalizing the two buildings directly east of BJs on both southern corners of 2nd Street - I am FIRMLY in their corner - without even having to tempt me with French Meadow and Surdyk's style liquor store.

I think saying the proposal is an absolute insult to North Mpls might be a bit hyperbolic. Is it MORE of an insult than BJ's already is?

Revitalizers were against the gas station changes at WBro and Fremont (which we should have been against); Revitalizers were/are against the proposed Auto Zone building on WBro; Revitalizers have been against some of the multi-family housing developments proposed along the WBro corridor. And now revitalizers are supposed to be against this plan because of an inconsistency with the West Broadway Alive plan - which is nothing written in stone but simply a well done community and city development wish list and guidelines.

Look at it this way, when will we have brand names and track records to rely on such as Master Development, French Meadow Bakery and Surdyk's (at least as an example of the comparable level of quality, not actual Surdyk's company name.) I say it is time for us to get behind a proposed development and help them move their vision forward so that more quality, successful developers will want to come do business here and partner up with the revitalizing neighbors instead of being chased away by the horror stories of neighborhood opposition.

PS - Hans- my theory about the 'voted best strip club' is that someone inside took a show-of-hands vote and said "Hey all, what's the best strip club on the corner of Broadway and Washington?" and everyone voted for BJ's.

:-)

Anonymous said...

I attended a meeting last week where the developer of the building and owner of the liquor store were in attendance. It was a WBBA meeting and they were looking for support for their meeting at the City.

The liquor store is just that a liquor store. They will be selling small bottles and spirits. They state an emphasis on wines, but it didn't seem that way. in fact at one point they said, "like surdyk's or france 44 or chicago/lake liquors". which one is it? oops.

And also, French Meadow is not legally bound to anything at this point. There was a lot of concern related to if French Meadow would actually sign on the dotted line. Then we'd be stuck with a liquor store.

Also, the bakery would be 1/3 the size of their current south minneapolis store. more deli style.

and lastly the developer i think is actually Land Ho development or something to that end. And they had a failed deal in Uptown to try and bring a Trader Joes.

Overall, i too think we could wait for something better. We don't need another liquor store.

Peace
.

Anonymous said...

I love BJ's. I hate strip clubs like Sheiks or whatever it is called. I want a bar where women happen to dance, vs a "gentlemans club" where every patron is a mark for every girl to take advantage of. I've never had any trouble there. Sure it's seedy but who doesn't love a dive bar from time to time.

M. Clinton said...

@ NoMi passenger - great points. I am now sold on this. I just wanted to clarify one thing however - I did not indicate the proposal was an insult, but terming it North Loop Gateway is an insult. It is much more a gateway to North Minneapois - but it is not called that. It makes me feel as if people are afraid to say "North Minneapolis" as if it is a dirty word or something.

Anonymous said...

megan,
i'm not sure we can "rely on" those brand names you mention. I think it's a stretch of the imagination.

1. You'll have a liquor store owner who has never owned a liquor store. And has gone from labeling their project from a "wine/cheese" store to admitting in most ways it will be just like any other liquor store, maybe even more like chi-lake liquors than surdyk's.
2. Land Ho development has failed dealings in the past.
3. French Meadow is by no means guaranteed as a tenant.

Just like everyone, having BJ's disappear would be fantastic. But we have to ask longer range questions.
1. will this development draw more people into north Minneapolis? Or will it just be a convenience for some residents of north (middle class folks like you and me), north loop residents, and some NE residents?
2. What happens if French Meadow bails? Would you be happy with just another liquor store and who knows what occupying the corner location? Because that's a possibility. the city council votes for the approval of the development/builder, not the tenants. If French Meadow bails who is to say the retail spot doesn't stay vacant for months and months and months?

In my opinion the developer is trying to sexy up the project with names like Surdyk's and French Meadow, all to mask that it's really just another one story liquor store.

Please don't be fooled

dsfriberg said...

If these developers (Masters or Land Ho or WHOEVER) can truly replace BJ's with a French Meadow, I could honestly care less if the building turns out to be negative one stories high. I support it. I participated in the some of the West Broadway Alive! meetings as they took place, and all of the brainstorming and discussion was very productive and hopeful. Since the plan's adoption, however, it has more-than-once struck me as an obstacle to development. If it results in the demise of the AutoZone AND "French Meadow" proposals, I will be convinced that it is too restrictive. West Broadway is not the Avenue des Champs-Elysee. These are viable businesses and a huge step up from what we've got.

MikeT said...

I'm confused.... did BJ's have a lot of complaints and 911 calls?
Did they fail to pay their taxes?

It can't be because we are casting judgement on people who are doing us no harm, can it?

Anonymous said...

This place has got to go...it was one of the worst entry points to a neighborhood so desperately seeking to improve its image.

Anyone who would oppose knocking this dump down and replacing it was a quality business is crazy...

This would be a huge image boost for Hawthorne.

Anonymous said...

Please leave North Minneapolis.

All you recent NoMi Hipsters are ruining our neighborhoods. You need to go back to Loring or Uptown or whatever stick-up-the-ass area you moved here from.

Johnny Northside! said...

So wanting clean streets and no gang violence makes us "hipsters?"

Anonymous said...

All I have to say is Another Liquor Store On Broadway! We must be really thirsty. OH then the north lopers wont actually have to come to NORTH MPLS.
T JARAMILLO

Michael Spivak said...

Sweet. I figure any house in the area or that uses the Broadway/Washington exit will rise in value a few grand with nicer amenities at the corner. That and the Lowry Bridge will both help me out. Rock on!

NoMi Neighbor said...

I have to say, I am also in the skeptical camp. The name "Surdyk's" is tossed around but it's not actually going to be Surdyk's. And we don't have a guarantee on French Meadow either.

The two-story facade is only to face west, right? NOT North, onto Broadway.

I don't want to knock this project as it's clearly got potential... but nor do I want to be romanced into something that will not ultimately be what it seems.

People were crowing forever (myself among them) about how we would get the world's largest YWCA, and how it would be this great big thing for WBro, and look what happened there.

I hope that this development happens, and I hope that it succeeds, AND I think it is possible to give a nod to both NoMi AND North Loop (how about a corner sign which has "NoMi" facing west and "NoLo" facing south??) but in order for that to be the case we need to be thoughtful and patient, and the developer needs to (I think) exercise a bit more respect for the importance of the West Broadway Alive plan.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see BJ's leveled, but not at any price. The primary driver here is the "wine and cheese" store. Oh wait, that's what they said on the first pass. Then it was a "wine and spirits" store. Now it's just a liquor store. Yes, they will be selling pints and 40's.

We've had a whole lot of positive development in NoMi. When Minneapolis Public Schools moves onto Broadway, we will have another 500 workers in our area. We all want development and progress, and it's coming. Lets not accept something that is only marginally better. The right project will come along if we are patient...

Johnny Northside! said...

Mike T

As far as I can tell, BJ's DOES NOT have a lot of complaints and DOES pay their taxes.

And I am STILL judgmental and want this sad little den of inequity to GO AWAY.

Having said that, I definitely want a "wine and cheese" liquor store instead of "just another liquor store."

Anonymous said...

How is it that BJ's is going away? Do they own the building and are selling? Going out of business? Not having their lease renewed? I'd be curious as to what is the force behind them losing the business?

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't have nearly as many complaints against BJs if they did something to fix up the exterior...a fresh coat of paint goes a long way. It looks really run down.

M. Clinton said...

My understanding is that BJ's was not shut down by the city or anything like that. The owner has owned it for an eternity, was ready to hang up his hat, and simply sold the place. If anyone knows anything otherwise, let us know, but that is what I have heard through the grapevine.

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

I heard through the grapevine that BJ's was given a conditional license to operate a strip club outside of the warehouse district, and that license had a sunset date on it. Now we've reached that sunset date and the license won't be renewed.

I want to emphasize, though, that this version of the story has not been independently confirmed; it's just what was said to me in passing by someone I trust to know these things.

MikeT said...

It would seem to me if they aren't creating a problem, paying their taxes, and not attracting a bad element (I'm guessing their patrons are the guys from that strip of factories and warehouses down there), we probably have bigger fish to fry. Going after a harmless titty bar is, in my view, a little PollyAnnish given we live in war zone.

If anybody actually thinks a fancy Wine & Cheese shop or a French Meadow is really moving in there, I'd respectfully remind you to perhaps stop using spray paint in confined areas.

Stay cool, Campers! :^D

Anonymous said...

The reference on the bar to being voted the best goes back to 2001.

City Pages picked them as best strip that year.
http://www.citypages.com/bestof/2001/award/best-strip-club-3354/

Johnny Northside! said...

Sad. That's just sad.

M. Clinton said...

In either scenario, the point is that there was not any grass roots effort to "go after" BJ's. It was a surprise to most I know that it was closing down. It was not as if it occurred because a group got together "against" BJ's to shut it down.

Anonymous said...

To Hans:
BJ's being best strip club is a joke?
Which strip club do you vote for?

To Johnny:
City Pages voting BJ's best strip club less than 10 years ago really lessens the validity of your blog being voted the Best Blog, huh?

Johnny Northside! said...

Not really. I don't put it up on my marque, even though I certainly have the capacity to DO that.

Hans said...

"Voted best strip club"

It's a joke because they left that on their sign for years without any reference to the entity that voted them "best."

I had no clue it was a legitimate vote until now.

If they were voted best every year since then it would make sense to leave it on the sign... but considering the look and feel of the building... well, I just laughed every time I drove past.

Your Eyedea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Your Eyedea said...

Voted best strip club or not. Strip clubs are NASTY! Lets lower humanity by allowing our women to dance naked for losers like Spanky Pete.

Nasty Nasty NASTY

Anonymous said...

Oh wahh! If you don't like them you aren't required to visit them.

Anonymous said...

I know that the warehouse district has been doing quite well and could use the amenities of a "French Meadow Bakery" and "Surdyk's" style liquor store. But there is quite a void between the upscale condos where the market for these products exist and the location at BJ's.

Is there some other development further up Washington that we don't yet know about? or is this just a proposal for another "paper pretty" liquor store to add to our already abundant collection that feed vices on the North Side?

Anonymous said...

People that jump to conclusions and have all the imaginary answers without knowing any body that actually works there(besides the bodies on stage,i mean).I know two of these people personally.P**** the waitress and R****** the tab lady.What a couple of real nice personable people that have REAL bills to pay like the rest of us.P**** keeps the riff-raff out when she is working and she does it with a vengeance.You cannot even get in the door to use the restroom.R****** keeps me coming back with her laughter even though i am not the best in pullin tabs.Last i heard was that all these businesses in this establishment were within the law.Gambling, Drinking,Dancing for entertainment.It's legal and they keep the troublemakers OUT.I think folks ought to concentrate on the thug corner markets who let troublemakers run amok and ruin the local residents lives and lessen their chances of making it in one piece to enjoy the next day.I agree that the place needs a cosmetic makeover but for some of the self-righteous that will never be enough.Boat says hocus pocus please refocus.Meanwhile....here's ashoutout to Pete...time and tide wait for no man.

Anonymous said...

I think BJ's should get some of that facade money that the shoe store got.

NoMi Passenger said...

To add to Boathead's comment, I agree that BJ's seems to have run a real decent business. Yes, I HAVE been there once or twice. Or three times :-) and I have NEVER seen any trouble or problems there. It is what it is.

However, it does not seem as if BJ's is going away due to any pushback from the neighbors. SOunds like the owner is getting out of the game and cashing in his chips.

Hopefully, he waited a long time to get a good, decent price for his real estate and he can live happily ever after. And good luck to all the real, everyday folks earning a living there, hope they stay in our northside community, because I've never seen any problems from any folks there.

Anonymous said...

I just noticed the other day that BJ's has Butt Glass facing Washington

Anonymous said...

The majority of you haven't got a clue..Do you honestly think a "wine and cheese" shop is really gonna improve Broadway and Washington? Northside is indeed the "Northside". I know for a fact not one rightful minded human being has ever turned left to go to Merwins liquor store on their way home from work for the fear of being robbed! Liquor store there will do the same thing! No wine shop is going to make a difference.
As for the Good Sports Bar, huh! Johnny A's had more raids for drug busts and shootings since it became J A's.
Bj's does NOT have shootings,controls it's customers by CARDING them! Which does make a big difference. All the other bars around there have only had problems.
And the officers of the 4th precinct that have stopped back in the beat walking days, and those now, would too say "Bjs has never been a problem bar"!

Anonymous said...

Clean streets and no gang violence?
HAHAHA! What you're saying has nothing to do with BJ's all your gang violence bullshit is over the bridge and on and on West! Get your facts straight!

quisham said...

I am a resident of the Northside of Minneapolis. I attended the neighborhood meeting regarding the removal of BJ's and the subsequent building of a liquor store.
While I do understand some people's reservations concerning another liquor store in North Minneapolis, it is amazing to me the outcry against it.
First, surely, another liquor store does NOT mean more people will consume alcohol. No more than a car dealership in a given area guarantees more drivers in that area.
Another piece of commentary that boggles my mind is the fear of "undesired" patronage. There are many establishments in the area that do not and have never had that problem. The owner(s) of a business determines EARLY in the life of his/her endeavor whether or not this becomes a problem.
Finally (and to me, most importantly), here we have an African American male....... A SUCCESSFUL African American male.... Whom has place himself in a position to open a business in North Minneapolis, and the vast majority of the rhetoric I've been hearing is negative. Amazingly, from people that look like him. I sat at a neighborhood meeting in which I listened to the owner of Broadway Liquor bash the entire concept. The best reasoning he could conjure up had to do with him being a third generation owner in that business. WOW!!!! I guess it's not ok for a black man to attempt to embark upon generational wealth. I suppose it's not acceptable for a person of color to generate that kind of income in an area where he looks like his patrons. Am I to assume WE (people of color), should continue to spend our hard earned monies with those who do nothing for the community, know nothing of our struggles and feel none of our hardships? If this is what WE have come to..... My question to all is.... Is there really a WE at all?

quisham said...

I am a resident of the Northside of Minneapolis. I attended the neighborhood meeting regarding the removal of BJ's and the subsequent building of a liquor store.
While I do understand some people's reservations concerning another liquor store in North Minneapolis, it is amazing to me the outcry against it.
First, surely, another liquor store does NOT mean more people will consume alcohol. No more than a car dealership in a given area guarantees more drivers in that area.
Another piece of commentary that boggles my mind is the
fear of "undesired" patronage. There are many establishments in the area that do not and have never had that problem. The owner(s) of a business determines EARLY in the life of his/her endeavor whether or not this becomes a problem.
Finally (and to me, most importantly), here we have an African American male....... A SUCCESSFUL African American male.... Whom has place himself in a position to open a business in North Minneapolis, and some of the rhetoric I've been hearing from people that look, think and have the same overall goal of advancement of a people is negative.I sat at a neighborhood meeting in which I listened to the owner of Broadway Liquor bash the entire concept. The best reasoning he could conjure up had to do with him being a third generation owner in that business. WOW!!!! I guess it's not ok for a black man to attempt to embark upon generational wealth. I suppose it's not acceptable for a person of color to generate that kind of income in an area where he looks like his patrons. Am I to assume WE (people of color), should continue to spend our hard earned monies with those who do nothing for the community, know nothing of our struggles and feel none of our hardships? If this is what WE have come to..... My question to all is.... Is there really a WE at all?