Photo Essay: The Vacant Storefronts of Lyn-Lake

Lot going on in South Minneapolis lately! Just yesterday, the public got wind of two new proposals for buildings along the Midtown Greenway–five and six story buildings on both sides of Grand Avenue directly south of the Greenway. While there has recently been lots and lots of redevelopment west of Lyndale Avenue along what is generally considered the Uptown part of the Greenway, not much has been built on the Whittier side in the past decade, so this is kind of big news, in an economic sense.

The so-called “Lyn-Lake” business district centered on the intersection of Lyndale Avenue and Lake Street should, in theory, be one of the city’s most desirable and busy commercial nodes. There’s a ton of new residential that’s been built within walking distance, filling in some gaps in what were already and still are stable, prosperous, and densely-populated neighborhoods. For all that new density (thousands of units!) not much new retail space was added. There are a couple spots in Lime along Lyndale Avenue. There was a decent amount over in The Walkway (i.e. the hot tub building) but that’s over closer to Hennepin Avenue.

There’s something weird going on over at Lyn-Lake, though. It’s full of vacant commercial space! Two corners, previously home to Falafel King and Milio’s, are empty. Caffrey’s closed after much speculation. Country Bar closed, Tatters closed, Serendipity Road closed, and so on. There’s a natural churn to business of course, that’ll happen, but the issue here is that the spots are still vacant.

What’s going on here?

Yesterday, local celebrity and dog owner Phil Schwartz went out and took a bunch of photos of the area…let’s take a looksie.

LynLake Sidewalk & Banner

Snazzy Signage/Branding

Lime Retail Spot

The only new commerical space in the area–a restaurant moved into the corner there but this has been empty for about two years

The former Tatter's space

The former Tatter’s space has been vacant since fall of 2014

Former Serendipity Road

The former Serendipity Road space has been vacant since last year

Former Milio's

Next to what was Serendipity Road, Milio’s on the northwest corner of Lake and Lyndale closed last year

Former Falafel King

The large vacant space on the southwest corner of Lake and Lyndale lost Falafel King in 2014

Cellphone Repair

iCellphone Repair closed when Falafel King did

Former Midwest Makeup Supply

This spot on Lake Street was previously home to Midwest Makeup Supply and has been vacant for about a year

Former Rockler Hardware

This building on Lyndale has been vacant for ages–Google Street View has it occupied in 2007 by Rockler Hardware

Former Country Bar

Country Bar & Grill left this spot next to Falafel King on Lyndale Avenue in 2014 and is allegedly working on reopening at some point

Former Caffrey's

Area resident Matt Brillhart was devastated by the closing of Caffrey’s, next to Country Bar & Grill. There was a lot of confusion about their drawn out closure last year

3012 Lyndale

A couple storefronts down from what was Caffrey’s is another vacant spot, Metaphysical/Eye of Horus moved west down Lake Street a couple years ago

3014 Lyndale

Next to that, Defiant Tattoo at 3014 Lyndale has closed, though their website is still up

3020 Lyndale

3020 Lyndale is a long-vacant house that has had many different for sale signs over the years

Weird, huh! It’s not a huge area; these spaces are all within a couple minutes’ walking distance of each other. Other than Milio’s (and, technically, Falafel King) they’re all small businesses. Is that the issue? There are still plenty of locally-owned small businesses still thriving in the commercial heart of Uptown over at Lake and Hennepin, and there’s a pretty good example of fully-leased-by-small-local-businesses retail space in a newly-built apartment building a couple blocks up at 28th and Lyndale, though that building was built with subsidies and may not be subject to the same market pressures.

Any ideas? I would like to open a bagel shop somewhere around there, let me know if you have like $500,000.

Nick Magrino

About Nick Magrino

Nick Magrino grew up all over the place but has lived in the Loring Park neighborhood of Minneapolis longer than anywhere else. He has a new cat, Sweater, and does not use hashtags at @nickmagrino. He is probably on a bus right now.