Big project on Alexandria's Broadway hits delays

The project, called “The Rune, a GoodNeighbor Property,” will replace vacant buildings that last housed Bello Cucina restaurant and Blue Collar Bob’s.

So far, only some light clearing work has taken place at the site of a major redevelopment on the former Old Broadway/Bello Cucina site at Third Avenue and Broadway in Alexandria. (Al Edenloff / Echo Press)

An $25 million project to redevelop the corner of Broadway and Third Avenue in Alexandria is going to take longer than expected. (The cost of the project has been updated by the developer.)

At its meeting Monday night, the Alexandria City Council agreed to change its tax increment financing agreement with the developer, GoodNeighbor Properties LLC, by extending the date when the project must be substantially completed by one year – to Dec. 31, 2021.

The project, called “The Rune, a GoodNeighbor Property,” will replace vacant buildings that last housed Bello Cucina restaurant and Blue Collar Bob’s. The new five-story complex will consist of commercial and retail space – including a new, unnamed restaurant – along with 72 market-rate apartments, ranging from studios to one- and two-bedroom units.

Before demolition work could begin, the project ran into several snags, according to Robert Thompson, managing member of GoodNeighbor. Part of the property was once the site of a former Amoco gas station, he said, and the developer is working with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to close the environmental monitoring at the site.

“We have been attempting, without success, to abandon four monitoring wells that are within the footprint of the building structure,” Thompson said in a letter to the city. “We are now working closely with Jeff McCoy of West Central Environmental to resolve the closure of at least four monitoring wells, if not the whole site.”


A few other hurdles must be cleared in order to close the financing, Thompson said, including the vacation of an alley and obtaining a demolition permit from the city.

Thompson relayed some good news about the project – a commercial space is filling up. Bremer Bank will be moving from 720 Broadway, its home for more than 50 years, into the new development. Bremer is also selling its downtown property to GoodNeighbor. Bremer’s new building will be approximately 10,600 square feet.

Thompson added that other phases of pre-construction are moving forward. Demolition work is expected to start in early May and construction is expected to be completed in mid-August 2021. This will give the developers some leeway to meet the Dec. 31, 2021, deadline to deal with any unforeseen circumstances, Thompson said.

Changing the completion date will not have any financial impact on the city and will not alter the terms of the tax increment financing agreement in any way, according to Nicole Fernholz, director of the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission.

The development includes 35,426 square feet of commercial space and 153 underground parking stalls.

Four stories will be above ground on the Broadway side and three stories above ground on the Hawthorne Street side. The first floor, which will be at ground level on Broadway and have underground parking on the Hawthorne side, will be the commercial level.

There will be another underground parking level below this.

The construction manager of the project is CI Construction, LLC.


Al Edenloff is the editor of the twice-weekly Echo Press. He started his journalism career when he was in 10th grade, writing football and basketball stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent.
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