ROBBINSDALE, Minn. - Peter Richie doesn't have to read the book on Robbinsdale history. He wrote it.
But one of the author’s favorite Robbinsdale places appears to be headed for a date with a wrecking ball.
The Terrace Theatre – opened in 1951 and shuttered since 1999 – stands on property marked for a new Hy-Vee Grocery Store.
“There are Hy-Vee’s all over the place and there are going to be more,” Richie said, “but Robbinsdale’s got something special.”
Terrace supporters suffered a blow last week when the Robbinsdale planning commission gave its recommendation to the development plan brought to the city.
The public hearing that preceded the decision brought passionate testimony from theater supporters. Robbinsdale resident Mary George was among them.
“It just seems like every structure that meant something to an entire generation has been taken and now it's going to be the Terrace, and that’s heartbreaking,” she said.
Other residents expressed concern that a large Hy-Vee would draw customers from Robbinsdale’s mom and pop businesses.
On the flipside, some residents welcomed the grocer.
“As both a homeowner and a business owner here, the revitalizing is important to our community,” Jen Jamar said.
Once a gem of mid-century architecture, the Terrace has deteriorated since its closing. Yet theater supporters believe it’s not too late for redevelopment and the theater’s second act.
“There's plenty of room on this property for a grocery store and a historic theater,” Richie said. “It doesn't have to be either or.”
But Hy-Vee’s plans don’t include the Terrace. The Des Moines-based grocer is planning its 90,000 square foot development on a footprint that would take not only the theater, but an empty former Rainbow grocery store and much of the Terrace Mall.
In a statement, Hy-Vee spokesperson Tara Deering-Hansen wrote, “We are excited to work with city leaders to progress this development and join the Robbinsdale community. With that said, we understand that some residents will be upset and saddened at the loss of the Terrace Theatre.”
Deering-Hansen wrote that HyVee will “investigate if any remnants are salvageable and that would allow us to create some type of tribute to the theatre on or near our store’s property.”
The Robbinsdale City Council will take up aspects of the Hy-Vee development at its August 1 meeting.
On Tuesday Hy-Vee will open a new store in Brooklyn Park - its fourth in the Twin Cities – with four more underway in Eagan, Savage, Cottage Grove and Maple Grove.