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Izzy's: Good Ice Cream, Bad Neighbor? Part 1

They want to build a factory across the street from Gold Medal Park?  With Taxpayer Dollars?  Really?

About the Author:  David Tinjum is a resident of the Historic Mill District of Minneapolis, Publisher of Mill City Media, and CEO of St. Paul based software company Customer FX Corporation.

*Disclaimer:  Izzy's Ice Cream is not yet a neighbor, and therefore cannot be considered a bad one, yet.  Mill City Times, and the author, are opposed to the development of a factory across the street from Gold Medal Park in the Historic Mill District of Minneapolis.


Above: The mock-up of the proposed fortress factory planned for 1100 S. 2nd Street - view full sized image

I like the ice cream Izzy's makes.  I try to make sure I have a pint of Chocolate Chip (I know, boring) in the freezer at all times.  We get it from the grocery store in our building, which is located across the street from Gold Medal Park. However, making good ice cream does not make Izzy's a good fit for the Historic Mill District neighborhood.

It's a Factory, Not a Parlor

An ice cream parlor at this location would be awesome, and if a casual follower of the issue were to believe the spin coming from the Minneapolis Community Planning & Economic Development Department (CPED), that's what's being planned:

“We think it would be a great use to have this adjacent to Gold Medal Park. What a great thing to have an ice cream place there.” Cathy Polaski with CPED in Finance & Commerce.

Sounds pretty delicious, but what is actually planned is a factory. Forget about visions of strolling through Gold Medal Park with an ice cream cone with your family on a sunny summer evening.  This is just one of many misleading statements from our local government officials which the local press has been all too willing to publish.

“It’s also a great fit for the neighborhood’s dynamic mix of residents, cyclists, students, pedestrians and entertainment-goers...” Mayor Rybak said in this Finance & Commerce article.

Really?  A factory? That's quite a stretch Mr. Mayor.  You better check with CPED, they must have forgotten to copy you on the memo about this being a factory rather than an ice cream parlor.

A Factory is Forever, Long Term Planning is Needed

Regardless of what is being produced, once approved and constructed it will remain a factory regardless of which company owns the building.  Future owners of the building will not need any approval from the City of Minneapolis for any use allowed under the Minneapolis Zoning Ordinances.

"It's industrial, but it's a one-story building that makes ice cream," said Council Member Gary Schiff, chairman of the zoning and planning committee. "We're not talking a foundry here." From a recent article in the Star Tribune...

As Chair of the Zoning and Planning Committee, Mr. Schiff is well aware that businesses come and go, but the building retains it's zoning uses.  And businesses, especially small ones like Izzy's, come and go frequently.

According to an article in the Pioneer Press, Izzy's has has expanded, and failed twice in the last several years, only to retreat to it's current single location:

This isn't the first time Sommers and Hammel have branched across the river. In 2001, a year after opening Izzy's in St. Paul, they opened a second store in the downtown Minneapolis Medical Arts Building. A year later, they ran an ice cream kiosk nearby at the Marshall Field's store. They closed both a few years later.  Pioneer Press...

From a community planning perspective, we have to ask ourselves if having say, a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in this location would be bad for the neighborhood.  Yep, that would be an approved use under current zoning, as would a whole host of other uses not nearly as yummy sounding as ice cream.

A Factory Only Possible Because of Out of Date Zoning

Although the land is zoned light industrial, this designation is a relic from the days when the area was a railroad yard. Only 20 years ago this area was considered "skid row".  Today an elegant and heavily-used park – surrounded by residential, cultural, and professional offices – beautifies this repurposed riverfront section of the city.

The City Needs to Hear from the Community

This is an important issue that will have an impact on this neighborhood for decades to come.  As we'll point out in an upcoming installment of this series, so far the neighborhood has had zero input into the decision making process.  Please read on below for details on how you can make your voice heard. 

This is the 1st in a 5 part series digging into everything the City of Minneapolis and the local press is not telling us about this issue.

Part 1 - Izzy's: Good Ice Cream, Bad Neighbor? (this article)

Part 2 - CPED Needs a New Calculator

On Monday: Why Izzy's will kill Park Vista


Please Email the Minneapolis Community Development Committee

In advance of the next meeting (see below) please email the City Council Members with a simple request: "Please vote against the Izzy's proposal".

Email Lisa Goodman, Chair at:

cc the members below:

John Quincy, Vice Chair –

Kevin Reich -

Robert Lilligren -

Cam Gordon -

Don Samuels - (Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association)

Your voice makes a difference in local policy making, please take action!

Please Attend This Important Meeting at City Hall on Tuesday 1/17/2012

A public hearing for the sale of Outlot C, 1100 2nd St S, for $437,850 to River Road Holdings, LLC, an entity affiliated with Izzy's Ice Cream (the staff recommendation), is scheduled for the next Community Development Committee meeting.

When: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Where: Room 317, City Hall.

The public is invited to give testimony, please do so.  

Below: Summer fun at Gold Medal Park

July 2, 2011 Mill City Farmers Market

« Letter to City of Minneapolis Regarding Izzy's Factory | Main | Showing through January 19 - "Sleeping Beauty" from the Film Society of Minneapolis/St.Paul »

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