One of the Victory Neighborhood Association’s (ViNA) primary activities is to find ways to grow new neighborhood businesses and support the ones already operating here. So ViNA has taken an active interest in finding a new tenant for the recently-vacated commercial spaces at 44th and Penn Avenues.
The building was long home to the Victory 44 restaurant. Victory 44 was leasing the space and in June, the building was sold to a new owner. Within weeks of the closing of that sale, it was announced that Victory 44 would no longer be in operation and the business vacated the property.
Properties like the one that was home to Victory 44 are very important to our neighborhood’s vitality. Restaurants and other small businesses contribute to a community’s sense of place, help neighbors connect, and allow residents to spend money locally. Upon hearing of Victory 44’s closure, ViNA staff and volunteers from its Business Committee worked to respond. On August 12, the organization hosted a listening session with neighbors who shared ideas for what they would like to see in a new restaurant moving into the property and made suggestions of other restaurants that could serve as a model for what would be successful there. Many attendees also contacted their favorite dining spots to encourage those business owners to consider opening a new restaurant in the building.
Since the listening session, ViNA and staff from the City of Minneapolis’ Community Planning and Economic Development Department (CPED) have been in regular contact with the new building owner and her real estate broker. ViNA and CPED have shared their grant and financing options that may be attractive to a new tenant and have also shared ideas and connections on what may have success in the neighborhood. ViNA and CPED learned that the owner is willing to return the property to two dining spaces, potentially resulting in a café/coffee shop model on the east side of the building and a full service restaurant on the west side of the building.
As a direct result of ViNA’s initiative, four prospective tenants from in and outside Victory have toured the building, in addition to a number of prospects coming through traditional real estate marketing channels. Although the vacancy initially raised alarm, there are many reasons to be optimistic; namely the building owner is sincere about finding a tenant that will be committed to the community and have long term success.
If you or someone you know is interested in the building, contact the ViNA office to be connected to the property owner. If you are interested in helping develop neighborhood businesses, attend a Business Committee meeting– the second Saturday of most months at Emily’s Café at 8 a.m. Info: vicotryneighborhood.org.
Written by Katie Fitzpatrick