Monday, December 1, 2008

Trivia for the Day

How far is the Dunn Brothers from the newly built, $10 million dollar over budget Community Center?

Answer: 1.03 miles

Regarding the Smith-Douglas-More House:

"Kids, book clubs and seniors' groups gather at the coffee shop, and it has become a place of value to the people of Eden Prairie, but the council is primarily focused on the dollars and cents involved, Case said. "The question of how much revenue should it bring in is being asked independently of its value in the community.''- Ron Case

Please....somebody explain to me right now why a Community Center is not a place for the community to gather?? We could have spent $3,000 on a Coffee Stand and called it a day.

Letter after letter has expressed the benefits to the community derived from the million dollar coffee shop- one of the reasons cited continually was that our community's youth likes to congregate there. Boy, times have changed. We used to hang out at Pizza Hut and Baker's Square back when I was in high school. EPHS is literally steps away from the new Community Center. But, silly me- that's not where our kids want to hang out! Eden Prairie youth should be able to sip a cup of cappuccino in a historic home- and you better be willing to subsidize that you troglodyte!

This makes me wonder- is loitering a problem at the Dunn Brothers? You're selling $3 cups of coffee and encouraging people to hang out for hours (the Barnes and Noble model)- but there aren't any books for sale. How do you turn a profit?

After a lot of wrangling and political capital spent, the City Council was able to produce $3,000 more in annual rent from the current franchisee. $9,000 total over the 3-year lease agreement. Good for them, it's better than nothing. But, we are stuck with this lemon of a municipal project. Who will ever try to buy the property with the outcry and outrage of local liberals for their beloved gathering spot? No smart businessperson, that's for sure. The loud protests win again.

So- let's hope the business becomes more profitable and the franchisee can afford to pay the City a market-based rent at some point. Idea for the owner- add lots of gift items for sale (artsy home products, jewelry, cards). Have cute tissue and gift bags to wrap purchases- brand it as the Historic Home Gift Company. There's nothing like this in EP and could help pay the rent. You have a huge advantage over other business owners- a city-owned charming historic home as the backdrop. You'd need some marketing dollars to make this a success. And I'd love to see the hoards of supporters put their money where their mouths are and buy some stuff to help out the owner become profitable at this business.

P.S. The City's "Truth in Taxation" meeting is at 7pm at City Hall tonight. An entertaining evening for the politically interested.


Jake said...

But Sheila, if only there was a place for them to hang out at the community center...the coffee and juice bar with wifi in the lounge just isn't good enough.

Sheila said...

OK- I missed that. Are you serious??

Jake said...

Pretty sure! Not positive about the wifi, but people were definitely on their computers! They definitely have a cafe can even get a sandwich!

Gavin Sullivan said...

The subsidized Smith-Douglas-More Dunn Bros is an extremely popular public amenity in Eden Prairie. I'd be happy keeping the establishment as-is.

Sheila said...

Yes- I'm sure you would and you get your wish!

I wouldn't call it "extremely popular" though.

Jim said...

Doh! I missed the Troof in Taxin' meeting. That's what I get for reading your blog too late in the day.

Speaking of sandwiches, I tried a Pastrami Jack sammich today... you're right, they are huge... still have half left for tomorrow.

phil said...

The new lease isn't a great deal for the city but it is about $17,000 a year better in terms of net income to the city than the old lease. The reason, which was overlooked by most, is that under the 2008 lease the City was responsible for exterior maintenance of the building (about a $14,000 expense in 2008) whereas the tenant will accept this cost under the terms of the 2009 lease. So, even though rent to the City is only marginally better, the change in net income to the City is greater than initially appears.