Block Heads Gather

Twenty one building and business owners met on Tuesday morning at the Rueb-N-Stein, enjoying the fine hospitality, as well as the delicious doughnuts, of Joe and Jody Grundhoefer. Oh yeah, we talked about some stuff too.

The first topic concerned recent NDDC Retail Initiatives. There was the Welcome Students campaign that was launched at the end of August to recognize first-year college students at both St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges. We followed that with a Family Weekend project that will be initiated at the end of September. For the Parents and families of St. Olaf and Carleton students, we’re planning to present them with a bag of goodies to entice them to visit the many fine establishments in downtown. Downtown retailers are encouraged to get goodies to the NDDC for bagging by Wednesday, September 28th.

We then heard from New Division Development on their plans for the Lansing Hardware property. Partners Randy Lutz and Beth Closner presented new details on design and, perhaps most exciting, a rumor that the Northfield Liquor Store might relocate to this developement. As usual, many of the building and business owners expressed their desire that the city might do more for parking in downtown. I suggested that they might follow Red Wing’s example and build a modest parking structure underneath the development to support this economic expansion. The slope of site makes a lower level of parking possible.

Finally, we had hoped to host a presentation from City Staff on the concepts for the Downtown Streetscape Plans being developed by a Mayor’s Task Force and the consulting firm of Dahlgren, Shardlow, and Uban. Unfortunately, the staff cancelled at the last minute due to unforeseen circumstances. We did receive an impromptu update on the project from task force members Joe Grundhoefer and Jim Bohnhoff as well as City Council members Jim Pokorney and Scott Davis. There was a high level of interest by attendees in seeing the actual drawings and we were told by Council Member Davis that they would be posted somewhere in the downtown area within the week.

In fact, the drawings were posted in the Northfield Public Library by mid-afternoon. Scott, if you always work that fast, we’ll be calling you more often! Unfortunately, our meeting had adjourned by then, so we’ll all have to look at the drawings on our own and discuss them with ourselves.

Task force member Joe Grundhoefer told us that he has requested a public forum be held on the design concepts where citizens could share their thoughts on the concepts and a follow up task force meeting be held to assure that the citizens’ thoughts are included in the task force’s final report to the City Council. The public meeting has tenatively been scheduled for September 28th at the Archer House. More details to follow.

9:45 am update: Griff Wigley went over to the library and took pictures of the drawings. He posted then on If you can’t get to the library, you can check out the drawings on line.