Wanted: One intrepid entrepreneur to spruce up a recently vacated commercial building in my neighborhood. It was most recently a natural health clinic, but they have either moved on to a more suitable location or have gone out of business. Being as I was not a client, all that really matters to me is that there is currently a for-sale sign that I pass by nearly every day, and I want someone to come occupy the location.
Okay, I’ll just come out and admit it. I want a bar on my street corner. A dive bar, even. A hole in the wall where men go to hide for a quick beer, lining the bar and staring glassy-eyed at the game or shooting the breeze with the other men-folk from the neighborhood. The building that stands on the property is ill suited for this, so a commercial-specific addition on the front would be necessary, or one might even need to raze the building. And, as per the Hopkins downtown design standards that the city extended all the way down the length of Mainstreet, it would need to be your classic pedestrian-oriented storefront with apartments or offices on the upper stories.
I suppose, for the sake of profitability, it can be more than just a bar. Maybe it can be a small cafe as well, serving coffee and breakfast in the morning (of course, with their lunchtime sandwich offerings wrapped up to grab and go as well), a place for a light lunch, and switching to that bar in the evening with some small plates. Perhaps it can have some ethic slant to it with a small specialty grocery offering, much like Samba down the road with their Brazilian market in the corner. Maybe, just maybe, I can be especially lucky and the folks over at Merlin’s Rest (my most favoritest of favorite neighborhood bars, which is sadly nowhere near my neighborhood) are willing to open a second location. Yes, a quality British/Scottish/Irish pub on my street corner would be a dream come true.
This is, I presume, wishful thinking. Bars are loud. They attract traffic. And, whoa buddy, that old house has all that green space around it, why would we want that filled in with some monstrous three-story old-fashioned building? This hypothetical bar would most likely not be welcomed by my neighbors, most of whom like their privacy, their quiet home life, and their elbow room. After all, this is the suburbs, dammit! Never mind that the central part of Hopkins existed as its own place long before the bedroom communities stretched out from Minneapolis after World War II. Or that our tight, walkable community (my house has a Walk Score of 83) is ripe for a little more urban infill. Or that what I’m proposing fits perfectly with the kind of development that should be within a half mile of a major transit station (i.e., pedestrian friendly and urban). Or that, for the sake of our city’s financial health, the last place we would want to be like is Minnetonka where the very utterance of the words “density” or “cutting down trees” brings pitchforks to your doorstep. When it comes to developments like what I’ve laid out, I’m very much a YIMBY (YES In My Back Yard) type of person.
Anyway, for those of you out there looking for a home for your business, well, there is this house. It’s there, it’s for sale, and there’s plenty of walk-up traffic available if that’s what you’re looking for. I would hope you could fulfill my vision, as it would save me a few blocks’ walk to get my libations, but I suppose I could be happy with just getting the new, urban commercial infill instead. Or just a business to occupy the house. That, I suppose, it the least of what I can hope for: The expedient occupancy of an empty location and seeing a business thrive and provide jobs in my community.