The abandoned Burger King at Nicollet Ave and E 34th Street is no more. Crews began demolishing it on Dec. 18 in preparation for a new mixed-use development that could bring 75 housing units and new ground-floor retail to one of Southwest’s busiest streets.
That plan would align with neighbors’ expectations for “a mix of housing and...an active commercial street front,” said Sami Smetana, executive director of Lyndale Neighborhood Association.
Southwest Voices reported in October that the property was about to get a new owner after years of legal battles related to Minneapolis’ ban on new restaurant drive-thru lanes (this Burger King had a drive-thru lane). Earlier this month, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal revealed the buyer as JADT Development Group, the North Minneapolis real estate company run by ex-Viking Tim Baylor.
The property sold for $1.15 million, well above its most recent tax-assessed value of $854,200. The seller was Miami-based Arjun Investments Inc., which purchased the property in 2000 for $395,000.
Little is known about JADT Development Group’s plans for the old Burger King lot beyond a brief description in the Certificate of Real Estate Value documenting the sale. The City Council hasn’t filed or discussed any development plans or zoning applications for the site. Neither representatives for JADT Development Group nor the City’s Community Planning & Economic Development department, which helps developers with zoning applications and construction plans, responded to requests for comment.
The property is zoned Corridor Mixed-Use District, or CM2, which generally allows buildings up to six stories. Community Planning & Economic Development Planning Director Meg McMahan told Southwest Voices that developers can go as high as 10 stories if they meet certain sustainability and affordability “premiums,” but it’s unlikely a 75-unit building would be so tall on a 0.6-acre site.
Though public details are scarce, the identity of one of JADT Development Group’s financing partners hints at the direction the project could take. Hennepin County mortgage records for the property show one of its lenders as St. Paul-based Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, a nonprofit that focuses on affordable housing projects and frequently works with smaller developers and property owners.
“Affordable housing is a big need in the Lyndale neighborhood, especially when we consider that 40% of current Lyndale residents are cost-burdened households,” said Smetana. Lyndale Neighborhood Association actively supports affordable housing efforts across Southwest, including Opportunity Crossing at 3030 Nicollet Ave., which could begin construction later this year.
The other listed lender is associated with Mortenson Properties, a subsidiary of a major construction, engineering, and real estate investment firm headquartered in Golden Valley. Neither Mortenson Properties nor Greater Minnesota Housing Fund responded to requests for comment.
Even if JADT Development Group submits plans to the City Council early next year, it could be months before they break ground on the site. In early October, McMahan told Southwest Voices that her department hadn’t had any contact with the company or its development partners. It’s not clear whether this is still the case.
But developers typically speak with Community Planning & Economic Development staff well before submitting mixed-use development applications to the City Council, said McMahan. In October, she suggested it would be “at least” six months before construction begins on the site, based on likely timelines for putting together plans and getting the necessary City approvals. That would put groundbreaking out to March at the earliest.
Regardless, the sale and demolition of the Nicollet Avenue Burger King means one less unused drive-thru in town. But there is another abandoned Burger King drive-thru on W. Broadway Avenue in North Minneapolis, across the street from JADT Development Group’s new Satori Village apartments and not far from JADT’s headquarters. Since 2015, the North Minneapolis Burger King has been owned by 818 Partners, LLC, a Minneapolis-based entity that appears unrelated to Arjun Investments.