Golden Valley council members granted preliminary approval to a planned Menards expansion that would give shoppers a bigger, two-story store to visit.
"They're already here, and they're a pretty popular store. A lot of people love their Menards, so we're glad to have them decide to stay in Golden Valley," said Mayor Linda Loomis.
The plan calls for tearing down the 29-year-old, 128,00-square-foot store in February. In its place, the company will build a 250,000-square-foot two-story building scheduled to open February 2012. The plan still requires final approval.
Menard Inc., the company that owns Menards, said it was not yet ready to discuss its plans for the store.
However, a representative from the company said at the Nov. 3 council meeting the company would move the store's 140 employees to its other 20 locations around the metro area during construction.
Councilman Bob Shaffer was the lone vote rejecting the store's preliminary design request at that council meeting. His chief concern is that the store plans to reduce parking spots at the same time it's doubling in size. The only scenario in which that would make sense if the parking lot is already too big, he said.
Shaffer's worries weren't alleviated when the Menards representative couldn't answer questions about parking numbers at a prototype store on which the Golden Valley project is modeled. If there turns out not to be insufficient parking, customers will only bypass Menards for Home Depot and other stores, he said.
"Part of the role of the city is making sure that the businesses that are going in aren't going to fail because that's not what we want," he said.
But parking problems don't trouble the other council members as much. Councilwoman Paula Pentel noted that Menards caters to contractors—more so than other home improvement stores. Those contractors tend to go in and out quickly instead of lingering and taking up space in the parking lot
"I think Menards has a pretty good idea what kind of counts they get at their store," Pentel said. "I don't think that the new store will have any negative impacts on future development in the area."
Loomis also noted that provisions in the planned unit development allow the city to require Menards to obtain more parking if that proves to be a problem.
Shaffer countered that that only pushes the problem off to future councils and could even lead to a lawsuit.
Still, the rest of the council sees the expansion as a boon for the community. A larger store will almost certainly be worth more, which would add to the tax base. Councilwoman DeDe Scanlon added that investing in a property during a poor economy is an encouraging message for other businesses.
"It will be a clean face to a building. It will be brighter. It will be cleaner," Scanlon said.
But Pentel said one of the most important parts of the project is the improved treatment of water flowing off the property. The property will have the highest water treatment level, giving nearby waterways a bit of a reprieve from contaminants.
Said Loomis: "Anytime somebody improves their property, we're excited for that. We like to see investment in the community."