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Penn Central of Richfield

A grassroots, community-building outreach serving the city of Richfield

Gateway Monument Design Reviewed
Installation scheduled for Penn Avenue and other entry points 

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As part of the Crosstown Commons reconstruction, funds were designated for the design and installation of gateway monuments on arterial streets at the Richfield/Minneapolis border, including Penn Avenue in the Penn Central of Richfield neighborhood. A task force has been reviewing designs and slogans in recent months, and concepts were presented to the City Council. The design shown above uses a classic look with the name "Richfield" stylized in a fashion reminiscent of the former Richfield Bank and Trust name. 

The installation of gateway monuments is a great idea. Visitors to our city too often mistake Richfield for one of our neighbors. That's not a good thing. These gateway monuments are slated for the northern border of Richfield, but it would be beneficial to also instrall gateway monuments on the border with Edina and on the 494 border with Bloomington. Guests to Richfield should not confuse the Southdale Square area with Edina or the Best Buy office with Bloomington, which happens with too much frequency.


 

Sure sign of spring

Cone Brothers Ice Cream opens for the season 

Cone Brothers Ice Cream and Candy
Cone Brothers Ice Cream Richfield

After a long, brutal winter, a sure sign of spring has arrived. The neon "Open" sign glows warmly in the window. A vintage bike is on display. Old fashioned advertising signage greets guests upon entering. All of these things can mean only one thing: Cone Brothers Ice Cream Shop has opened for the season. 

Located at  6633 Penn Avenue South in Richfield, Cone Brothers is a neighborhood institution. Besides delicious ice cream, guests can also find a wide assortment of candies, vintage brands of soft drinks (or pop like we call it here in Minnesota!), smoothies and Vienna Beef Chicago-style hot dogs. New in 2014, Cone Brothers is adding gourmet coffee for the caffeinated crowd.

Stop by Cone Brothers for a trip back in time and taste treats for the entire family.


 

 

Sit back and enjoy good taste

Aida Restaurant now offers delivery service 

Aida in Richfield delivers

If the temperature is too chilly to head out or you're simply feeling tired, you can still enjoy a delicious dinner. Aida, known for its tasteful menu of Mediterranean-inspired foods, started offering delivery at the beginning of the year. So now you can indulge in a gyro, kabobs, salads or any of the other culinary delights found on the menu -- all without ever leaving home. Aida is located at 2208 West 66th Street, Richfield (near Penn and 66th).For more info about Aida, please click here.


 

Suburban versus urban living

Does Richfield offer the best of both worlds? 

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The Star Tribune recently ran an interesting article about a trend where younger people, often times young families, are increasingly choosing the central cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul rather than suburban communities. This trend has been a reversal of historical patterns. To see the article, please click here.

While very interesting, the article divided the metropolitan area into only two categories, urban (meaning the central cities) and suburban (meaning everyone else). The article made no distinction between inner ring suburbs and outer ring suburbs. That was too bad because there really is a deeper story to tell.

Which brings us to the question, where does Richfield fit in? Interestingly enough, Richfield seems to be experiencing growth that's similar to the central cities. There is a pattern of more young people and younger families choosing Richfield as their home. By certain measures, Richfield is beating Minneapolis in the youth movement. According to the U.S. Census, Richfield has the largest percentage of residents under the age of 5 among all communities that border Richfield. The percentages are Richfield 7.5%, Minneapolis, 6.9%, Bloomington 5.4% and Edina 5.4%. A quick check with Richfield school enrollments confirms this trend where the classes at younger ages are growing.

So why are young people choosing more urban living? One reason is that they like the walkability of urban areas where you don't have to drive to go to a store, dining establishment or park. That characteristic fits right in with living in Richfield. With Richfield's local stores, neighborhood parks and quiet residential streets, Richfield scores equally as well as the central cities.

But here's the best part, Richfield matches the central cities in many quality-of-life measures, yet offers benefits that the central cities can't match. As an example, the size of Richfield gives it a small town feel where it's easier to build community.  People in Richfield really can connect with one another more easily through volunteerism, school activities and civic involvement. If you want to have an impact on the community, Richfield is accessible, where Minneapolis is much more overwhelming and bureaucratic due to its size. 

Richfield offers a unique blend that combines the best of urban and suburban living. It is a feature that we should capitalize on in promoting Richfield as the best place to live, work and do business.

What do you think? Offer a comment on our Penn Central of Richfield Facebook page


 

Penn Central Year In Review

2013 marked a year of great activity in the neighborhood 

From new business openings and a bridge renovation to property improvements and a bigger Open Streets at Penn Fest, the 2013 saw a lot of activity on the avenue. Here is a brief review of a few highlights.

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The second annual Open Streets at Penn Fest (and 6th annual Penn Fest in general) was held in September. Despite slightly cooler weather, it was a sky-high success, with a return of BMX Bike demos, music in the street, a car classic car show, 5K run to benefit the schools, and more. New this year waa a flea market with numerous vendors selling their wares.

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Open Streets at Penn Fest also saw an expanded range of foods served on the avenue.

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Celebity appearances such as this one with former Vikings player Jake Reed at Uncommon Sports Cards added to the fun.

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New businesses opened in the area, such as Penn Nails at 6329 Penn Avenue So and Twin Cities AutoSpot at 6540 Oliver. More new businesses opened in 2013 that we will be introducing in the coming weeks.

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The Penn Avenue Bridge connecting Richfield and Minneapolis was closed for several months as it underwent deck reconstruction. The new bridge features wider sidewalks and turn lanes to enhance both pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

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Banners marking the identity of the Penn Central neighborhood were installed in September.

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Arc's Value Village completed it's renovation with a significant upgrade of its exterior. The work is now finished. Here is a photo of the upgrade in progress.

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The Richfield firestation at Penn and 64th received an extensive remodeling both inside and out. The new exterior features a contemporary look that complements the neighborhood.

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Xerxes Bridge Reopens
Access to 62 Crosstown Restored with Newly Opened Bridge 

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Hooray for better traffic flow and less congestion.  The newly redecked Xerxes Bridge over 62 Crosstown is now open! This will restore access between Richfield and its neighbors of Minneapolis and Edina at this location. This will relieve some of the traffic congestion on Penn Avenue and surrounding streets.


 

A question for the community
Would you like to see a roundabout at 66th and Penn? 

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The idea of installing a roundabout at Penn and 66th as part of the upcoming 66th street reconstruction project has been aired. The map above shows a conceptual proposal depicting how it could look, if such a plan moves forward. The most significant impact affects the BP gas station at the southeast corner of the intersection.

It should be noted that nothing has been decided regarding a roundabout, but now is the time to add your voice to the discussion. Your first chance to offer your opinion comes this Thursday, May 15 at 7:30 am during a breakfast meeting. Neighbors, business people and city officials will gather at the next Penn Central of Richfield Third Thursday Meeting at Hope's Silver Spoon Restaurant at Penn and 67th. Jeff Pearson, Richfield's transportation engineer, will be on hand to discuss the idea of a Penn and 66th roundabout, as well as update the group about other transportation issues such as 66th reconstruction and the Penn Avenue overlay project happening this summer. 

Get involved in Richfield at a grassroots level. Stop by the meeting and let your voice be heard!


 

Penn Central activists receive Wood Lake honor
Herb and Darlene Perry receive Members of the Year Award 

Wood Lake Nature Center Richfield MN

Herb and Darlene Perry received the Friends of Wood Lake Nature Center (also known as FOWL) Members of the Year Award at the recent annual benefit dinner for Richfield's nature center. Herb has been an organizer of Open Streets at Penn Fest and volunteer for other Penn Central of Richfield activities. Herb and Darlene are also both members of the Friends of Wood Lake Board of Directors. The FOWL Member of the Year Award is given to people who show extraordinary dedication toward working for the benefit of Wood Lake Nature Center. Thanks to Herb and Darlene for being great citizens in making Richfield a better place to live!


 

 

UPDATE: Edina City Council approves plan

Proposed 6-story building could tower over west Richfield 

Richfield Edina Border
Xerxes homes on Edina side slated to be razed
Former Wickes Furniture Edina
Lennar development to replace York Avenue furniture store
Lennar Corporation York Avenue Edina
Site plan shows existing buildings to be razed

UPDATE: Going against the earlier 5 to 1 Edina Planning Commission vote to deny the staff recommnedation, the Edina City Council has approved the plan to build a six-story, mixed-use building at 6725 York without any modification to its size or close proximity to Richfield. 


 

A proposed six-story mixed retail and commercial development at 6725 York Avenue, Edina, is causing concern on the west Richfield border. The new building would replace the furniture store on York Avenue and several single family homes on Xerxes Avenue on the Edina side. It's the Xerxes side that is causing concern to Richfield. At six stories, the building would be an imposing size that would tower over and cast shadows over the single family homes on the Richfield side. 

Mayor Debbie Goettel spoke before the Edina Planning Commission on April 9 to express concerns about the size of the building and its close proximity to the Richfield border. While higher density developments are on the drawing board in cities across the region, this particular building seems to exceed the scale that is compatible with the Richfield homes. Options to remedy the situation include scaling the building back to four stories and moving the setback away from Xerxes Avenue. Lennar Corporation, the project developer, has stated that the cost of the project makes scaling it back eonomically infeasible.

At its April 9 meeting, the Edina Planning Commission denied the staff recommendation to approve the project on a 5 to 1 vote. A number of Edina Planning Commissioners expressed concern about the development's impact on Richfield. That vote, however, did not stop the proposal from moving forward to the Edina City Council, whcih will hold a public hearing at its next meeting on May  6 at 7 pm. Lennar Corporation will have representatives on hand to advocate for the project. It is highly recommended that advocates for Richfield turn out for the Edina City Council public hearing.

To read the Edina Planning Commission meeting minutes where the project was reviewed, click here

To review the Edina City Council agenda for the May 6 meeting, click here. The Lennar Corpoation project will be discussed under item VI Public Hearings.

Edina City Hall is located at 4801 West 50th Street. Please consider attending the meeting in support of Richfield's interests.


 

Open house held at Wood Lake

Public turns out to see future of 66th Street 

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66th street in Richfield today

Residents turned out in large numbers on Thursday, May 1 to see plans for the future reconstruction of 66th Street through Richfield. Representatives of the City of Richfield Transportation Commission, City staff, and Hennepin County officials were on hand to answer questions. Starting on the east side of 66th in 2016, 66th Street will undergo a major redesign. The western stretch of 66th Street will be reconstructed in 2017.

Goals of the reconstruction include making the transit corridor more pedestrian and bike friendly. Currently, with the sidewalk directly adjacent to the busy roadway, a stroll down 66th Street is not a pleasant experience when vehicular traffic is heavy. 

A number of plans and designs are still being reviewed, but it does appear that some homes will be lost between Penn Avenue and 35W no matter which design is selected. The first row of houses directly to the south of 66th Street are likely to be acquired for road construction, according to maps shown at the open house.

Want to offer your ideas but didn't have a chance to attend the open house? Contact Maury Hooper at the Hennepin County Transportation Department. 

Email: maury.hooper@co.hennepin.mn.us

Phone: 612-596-0396

Address:

Maury Hooper
Hennepin County Transportation Department
1600 Prairie Drive
Medina, MN 55340 

To connect with the City of Richfield 66th Street reconstruction page, click on the linked text. 

The City of Richfield also has a Facebook page that covers street projects. To connect on Facebook, click here


 

A really cool thing to do!
Mercedes Lenort from Posters on Board takes the plunge 

Richfield woman takes Polar Plunge

Wearing pajamas and with a teddy bear in hand, Mercedes Lenort from Posters on Board in Richfield experienced a harsh, cold reality on Saturday, March 1st. But it wasn't a bad thing. In fact, it was a really cool thing (cool in more ways than one).Mercedes participated in the Polar Plunge at Lake Calhoun, helping raise funds for Special Olympics

As you may recall, the day of Mecedes' plunge was not a typical March day. It was a brutally cold day with more of those polar vortex winds that we've experienced this winter. When asked what it is like to jump into icy cold lake water, Mercedes replies: "ABSOLUTE SHOCK!" She says a person can't wait to get out. "It's like a giant ice cube going down your back." 

The March 2014 jump at Lake Calhoun was her third year of participating in the event, although this year was the coldest ever. Nevertheless, she plans to do it again next year. Mercedes says it's a really great cause and a lot of fun. This year she raised over $1,000 for Special Olympics.

So what encouraged Mecedes to do it the first time? As a volunteer with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, she went to watch the event with her little sister in 2011. The event was filled with such excitement and energy that she decided to give it a try in 2012. She's been jumping ever since. 

According to Mercedes, part of the fun is all the people who dress up in costume. Mercedes and her friend shopped at Arc's Value Village in Richfield to pick out their attire for the day. The winning outfit was pink pajamas.

Mercedes say doing the Polar Plunge is simply part of her passion for getting involved in volunteer projects and fundraisers that benefit others. It's just a part of what motivates her. 

Penn Central of Richfield would like to thank Mercedes for being a great representative of our community. 


 

Future of 66th Street

Public turns out in good numbers at public open house

66th Street Open House
Future of 66th Street in Richfield

 

The public turned out in strong numbers to view concepts for future 66th Street and Portland Avenue redesigns at a public open house held on Wednesday, January 22 at the Richfield Municipal Center. Attendees had a chance to view alternative designs, offer feedback and talk with city and county officials as well as consultants.

Planning is still in the preliminary stages, but work will most likely begin on Portland in 2015 and on 66th Street in 2016. The reconstruction of 66th Street will be a two-year project, with stretches that run through Richfield worked on in stages. Whether the work will begin on the east side or west wide is still to be determined.

The redesign of 66th Street will have a significant impact on Richfield, and continued public input is desired. While the year 2016 seems somewhat far away, the people with the greatest impact will be those who get involved now and participate in early public forums. 

Penn Central of Richfield will keep you updated about opportunities to participate and give you an outlet for voicing your opinion. Feel free to leave your ideas and comments on our Penn Central of Richfield Facebook page

Other resources to check out include:

A City of Richfield Facebook page dedicated to street and public works projects

A citizen's Facebook page called 66th Street for All.

Check out all of these resources for information and perspectives.


 

Renovated firestation displays Penn Central name

New look on firestation adds color and contemporary appeal 

Richfield Fire Department
Penn Avenue Richfield Fire Station

The Penn Avenue Richfield firestation is looking great with its new exterior. Thanks to the City of Richfield and the Richfield fire department for investing in this upgrade, which adds to the visual appeal of the neighborhood. The red exterior adds a nice color that invigorates the avenue, and the overall exterior appearance looks fresh and contemporary. 

We also appreciate that the neighborhood's Penn Central name appears on the building. This is another step in helping us build our community identity. We would like to thank Richfield Fire Chief Wayne Kewitsch in working with us to make that possible. Thanks to all!


 


Event date announced
Open Streets at Penn Fest returning Sunday, September 21 

Open Streets at Penn Fest

Open Streets at Penn Fest is returning on Sunday, September 21 from 12 noon to 4 pm. Billed as "Richfield's Biggest Block Party," the event will feature music, dancing, food, crafts, arts, sports, biking, walking, skateboarding and lots of other fun activities on Penn Avenue, whcih will be closed to motorized vehicles on that day! Watch this website for more exciting announcements. 

 

To see the official Penn Fest announcement, click here


Thanks to Penn Cycle
Local business partners with Wood Lake Nature Center in annual fundraiser 

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Bike donated by Penn Cycle

Originating in the Penn Central of Richfield neighborhood, Penn Cycle has always proved itself to be a good neighbor. The locally based business recently showed its generosity by donating a kid's bike that was used as a prize at the recent Wood Lake Nature Center benefit dinner. The bike was a drawing prize that helped raise funds for the nature center and its mission of environmental education, habitat preservation and nature-based recreation. The photo above shows Sarah Condon from Penn Cycle's Bloomington location kneeling by the bike, which was on display at Wood Lake prior to the dinner. The bike has now gone onto a lucky boy or girl who will enjoy a really sweet ride all summer long! Thanks, Penn Cycle!


 

 

Mill and Overlay Project this Summer

Penn Avenue to be resurfaced and restriped with new lane configuration 

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Richfield Public Works held an open house on February 19 to show plans for the mill and overlay project that is scheduled to happen on Penn Avenue between 67th and 75th Streets this summer,The overlay will help smooth out the roadway for a more pleasant ride. Plans at this point also call for restriping Penn Avenue along this stretch from a 4 to 3 lane roadway, with a turn lane in the center. 

According to open house organizers, the work will begin this summer, but there is no set date yet for the start of the project. That will be determined by the schedule of the contractors. Watch this website for updates about the project.


 

Introducing a New Penn Central Business

Twin Cities AutoSpot can customize your ride 

TC AutoSpot in Richfield
Eric Froemming of Twin Cities AutoSpot

Normally when we talk about new businesses in the Penn Central neighborhood, it's a business on Penn Avenue. But tucked away on the Oliver Avenue side is a new business called Twin Cities AutoSpot. The business is located at 6540 Penn Avenue South (just north of 66th street) and is owned by Eric Froemming. Twin Cities AutoSpot is an automotive customization shop that can perform a range of services to make your ride more enjoyable, including audio and electronic upgrades, window tinting, mechanical repairs, automotive detailing and interior renewal.

Recently while talking with Eric, he mentioned that installation of remote starters has been a big seller, especaily with the the extremely cold winter this year. A remote starter allows people to get into a nicely warmed car in these frigid winter days, rather than a chilly car with stiff, cold seats. Many people were buying remote starters as Christmas gifts. In his shop, Eric has a signboard mentioning you can get $20 off the price of a remote starter installation when you LIKE the Twin Cities AutoSpot Facebook page

Although new in the area, Eric has been an enthusiastic member of the Penn Central business community. He actively participated in our Open Streets at Penn Fest event, hosting a Vikings party in his shop. Penn Central of Richfield is pleased to have Eric and Twin Cities AutoSpot as members of the community.

If you'd like to chat with Eric about any of his services (especially that remote starter installation) call him at  612-207-4588 or check out his website by clicking here.


 

Neighborhood meeting

Rep. Keith Ellison pledges to work with Richfield community 

Keith Ellison Richfield
Rep. Keith Ellison at Penn Central of Richfield Meeting

Representative Keith Ellison met with guests of the Penn Central of Richfield Third Thursday meeting on December 19th at Hope's Siver Spoon Restaurant. Rep. Ellison, whose district includes Richfield, said he wants this meeting to be the first of an ongoing conversation to help boost the vitality of the community and Penn Central business district.

Starting with a comment about the Twin Cities region as a whole, Rep. Ellison said the Minneapolis/St. Paul area has been identified as one of the strongest post recession economies in the country. Economic vitality is bouncing back here with more vigor than in many parts of the country.

With many small independent businesses, the Penn Central of Richfield area could look to federal and state government programs for tools that spur business growth, according to Ellison. The economic tools range from loan money for financing operations to technical assistance in areas such as selling abroad. He said it is very realistic for small businesses to engage in foreign trade, and cited a recent trade mission to Saudi Arabia where small Minnesota businesses benefitted. Small businesses can also look to agencies such as the Small Business Administration and the Minnesota Investment Fund for assistance.

Penn Central Committee Member Tom Rublein described a situation where Richfield is landlocked on all sides by larger neighbors and there is little open land for development. Yet Richfield has some unique advantages that it needs to capitalize on. According to Rublein, close proximity to the airport is one advantage. Richfield could promote its close proximity to the airport as a prime space for offices that have frequent visitors coming from the airport. 

Gordon Hanson, another community volunteer, said an age-old dilemma in redeveloping the neighborhood is balancing the desire to retain small independent businesses with the economic reality that new development often comes with higher rent and lease rates. "We'd like to reinvigorate the district, but we'd also like to keep the small independents that add character to the neighborhood and support community programs such as youth baseball leagues," mentioned Hanson. Rep. Ellison said that is a difficult problem and described a similar situation in northeast Minneapolis.

Richfield Chamber of Commerce President Angie Schaefbauer mentioned that her organization is actively working to promote the image of Richfield and its business assets. One recent initiative is working with the tourism board to promote Richfield hotels to large businesses that bring in people for workshops and conferences. She cited examples where certain businesses used hotels outside of Richfield because they seemed unaware of the hotels available within Richfield.

Rep. Ellison called this meeting a good start and promised to continue working with local Richfield interests. He mentioned the idea of organizing a small business roundtable to brainstorm ideas for supporting and growing business. He would like to encourage organizations such as the Small Business Administration and Greater MSP to participate to offer their expertise. 

Guests at the meeting thanked Rep. Ellison for his willingness to meet and for his offer of future involvement in the community.


 

Building our community identity

Seeing the Penn Central name in more locations 

Richfield Penn Central

The effort to brand our Penn and 66th neighborhood and build identity is moving forward. Recently, three of the bus benches in the area were updated to include our community logo. This latest accomplishment in community building was negotiated by Penn Central advocate David Gepner. It's one more step to becoming a stronger, more cohesive community.


 


Penn Central of Richfield - Your Neighborhood Mainstreet
Building Community in Richfield, Minnesota