dollar tree
The facade of the proposed Dollar Tree store at 671 S. Victoria St. would front on a 36-space parking lot on Victoria. The back of the building along West Seventh Street would have featured several opaque windows.

Plans to demolish a West End warehouse and replace it with a one-story commercial building were rejected by the Saint Paul Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) on May 16. The plans called for replacing the 86-year-old warehouse and parking lot at 1324 W. Seventh St. and 671 S. Victoria St. with a new Dollar Tree store and unnamed restaurant.

Eden Prairie-based 2-C Development was seeking six variances for the new structure. Twenty-six legal findings had to be met, and the project met only two of them.

“When a proposed project needs this many variances, it’s clear that it’s not right for the location and for the community,” said BZA member Diane Trout-Oertel.

“We understand we’re asking for a lot, but we think it’s a good cleanup of the property,” said developer Paul Tucci. “We’re always challenged to thread the needle between what a municipality requires and what the tenant wants.”

   

The plans drew vehement opposition from neighbors. City staff and the West Seventh/Fort Road Federation recommended denial of all six variances.

One red flag was that the back side of the building would face West Seventh. The main entrance and a 36-space parking lot were proposed for the Victoria Street side. The developer had proposed opaque glass windows for the West Seventh side and part of the building’s east side, but that did not mollify BZA members. Another concern was how close the new building  would be to adjacent homes. In addition to the variances, a rezoning of the Victoria parcel would have been needed.

“We understand we’re asking for a lot, but we think it’s a good cleanup of the property,” said developer Paul Tucci. “We’re always challenged to thread the needle between what a municipality requires and what the tenant wants.”

 

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The West Seventh Federation had little time to review the request for variances. “No one reached out to us,” said federation member Tanya Fabyanske Beck.

Members of the Biagi family, whose elderly mother lives next to the Victoria parking lot, complained that the new building would have been constructed right up against the side of her home. They said they were pressured to sell the home, and that they had to stop contractors from digging on their property.

Some neighbors objected to the presence of a big box store like Dollar Tree, saying the neighborhood needs to preserve its small businesses. However, BZA member Luis Rangel Morales noted that the zoning allows for a larger retail business. With plans to construct a streetcar line on West Seventh, he added, the neighbors should be prepared for change.

The six variances that were sought for the development were for the following:

  • The lack of a primary building entrance on Victoria and West Seventh.
  • Opaque glass in windows and doors, which would not allow people to see into and out of the store.
  • No doors, windows, projections, awnings, canopies or other design features on the lower 25 feet of the building.
  • The windows, doors and other openings did not comprise at least 50 percent of the length and at least 30 percent of the area of the ground floor facades.
  • The one-story building did not give the impression of greater height through the use of pitched roofs, dormers or gables, a higher parapet, or a cornice line separating the ground floor and upper level.
  • The trash enclosures along Victoria lacked any setback.

— Jane McClure

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