Auto repair

Edina nix planners propose to turn an old auto repair shop into a restaurant

A high-profile redevelopment proposal in Edina will be presented to Edina City Council on Tuesday after failing its first test before the Edina Planning Commission last month.

Local developers with Special X Properties are looking to transform Kee’s auto repair shop at 6016 Vernon. Ave. in a 2,300 square foot restaurant with an outdoor patio.

The plans garnered record feedback from city staff, with nearly 700 online comments submitted on the proposal – over 90% were in favor of the project.

The proposal would require an amendment to the overall plan and several deviations, which city staff are urging city officials to reject. The planning commission voted unanimously on September 28 to recommend that city council reject the application.

Cary Teague, the city’s director of community development, said city staff reviewing the proposal ultimately did not favor the plans for a variety of reasons, including the number of waivers requested in a residential neighborhood and concerns about the parking.

Kee’s auto repair shop at 606 Vernon. Ave. Courtesy of the City of Edina.

Built in 1957, a gas station operated on the property until the early 1990s, according to city staff. The property has since been cleaned and prepared for redevelopment, in accordance with Minnesota Pollution Control Agecy standards.

Resident Samuel Reid, who said he could throw a frisbee at the property from his home, was one of the residents who spoke out against the plans at last month’s public hearing.

“It doesn’t fit the residential, quiet character that we enjoy,” he said. “I don’t want loud noises coming from the patio. I don’t want overflow parking on our street and in front of our house. And I don’t want buzzing or drunken customers, strangers, filtering through our neighborhood, whether on foot, by bike or by car.

Martin Collins, a neighborhood resident behind NOLO’s Kitchen & Bar in Minneapolis’ North Loop and other restaurant projects, is a partner in the redevelopment project.

He said they were ready to work on a concept that wouldn’t involve a liquor license. Collins and Chris Davis of Special X Properties told the Commission that they hope to find a way to continue discussions with the city to create a concept that will enhance the property and create community gathering space.

“I want a restaurant, for sure, but what I see happening may be something else,” Collins said. “It doesn’t have to be a restaurant, it can be a candy store, it can be an ice cream shop – it can be something more, something better.”

The proposal is scheduled for another public hearing on November 15 during the Edina City Council meeting. The city originally planned to hold the public hearing on Tuesday, October 18, but has since rescheduled the hearing date.