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G-Will starts new store construction in Cottage Grove

Crews began tearing up the lot on the corner of Hadley Avenue and 80th Street last week in preparation for the new G-Will Liquors site. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)

Plans to build a 12,500-square-foot G-Will Liquors store in Cottage Grove are moving forward.

The City Council conditionally approved the site plan which proposes constructing the store on a 1.64-acre parcel directly across the street from the existing location, 6990 80th Street, in a vacant lot slated for future development of a multi-building retail center.

The lot, which is located adjacent to the Norris Square Senior Living complex, was planned for development by Presbyterian Homes in 2007 and was approved for 33,600 square feet of retail and restaurant space; a 36,000-square-foot, two-story medical and office building; and a 4,600-square-foot, stand-alone building.

The liquor store is planned to be the first business in the proposed Norris Marketplace retail center.

Cottage Grove Senior Planner John Burbank briefed the City Council Nov. 6 on the project application, which stipulates 32 conditions property owner Rademacher Companies must adhere to, including possession of appropriate building permits and updated liquor license, and keeping the worksite clean during construction.

The Andover-based business, which owns all the G-Will Liquors stores in the Twin Cities, is proposing to modify the site’s master plan to build the store on the northeast corner of the lot with the entrance facing the interior of the lot. The plans show that 80th Street will be the main access point with a second entrance on Hadley Avenue.

The city reviewed the traffic study conducted in 2007 and found no traffic safety concerns with current project’s design.

Economic Development Director Danette Parr said last month that the building’s exterior will emulate architectural standards from the adjacent senior living facility, a concept Mayor Myron Bailey said was crucial.

Similar to the existing building, windows will be installed facing both Hadley Avenue and 80th Street to be used as potential points of advertisement. Bailey expressed concern during the recent council meeting regarding the “image” of the corner and asked if the liquor store could be limited to the number of ads placed in the window.

However, because the city’s current sign ordinance allows for 30 percent of windows to be used as ad space, City Attorney Kori Land said it is an acceptable use.

“They aren’t asking for a variance so I would feel uncomfortable limiting that,” she said.

G-Will Liquors representatives said without a dedicated monument for the store, some windows will need to be used as advertisements. The plans do, however, include installation of a monument identifying the lot as Norris Marketplace.

Bailey, who voted against approving the site plan, said he understood the importance of signage, but remained firm on creating a positive image on the corner.

Council member Justin Olsen said while he sympathized with the concerns, using windows for advertisements should not a deal breaker.

“We’re trying to beautify this corner and make it look a little classier,” he said. “One thing we need to talk about is that this lot has sat empty for a long time. A lot of residents are concerned about dirt, weeds and dust, and beautification of the site via development or other method is certainly our preference.”

In talking about beautifying the space, Bailey also inquired about installing a water feature on the plaza planned on the corner of 80th and Hadley.

“I’m not asking about little rocks, like across the street, but something that is decent, something nicer,” he said, adding installing a water feature does not have to be specific to this project but said he would like to see one at some point in the development of the lot.