Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Before and After: Refreshing 26th and Penn

Vacant building on Southwest corner of 26th and Penn

The intersection of 26th and Penn doesn't have a lot going for it. (Unless you count that train that's going to stop one block away!) Yeah, there's a lot going on there, but not a lot of good. I will say, the no-accounts don't hang out in the parking lot of this building anymore. They used to congregate way up against the building, under the overhang, in the darkest spots possible, sitting on the little ledge where the glass meets the foundation. The Butt Ledge.

I can vividly remember driving past this building about 9 or 10 at night, headed east on 26th, and I could actually see the motion of a hookers head bobbing up and down. *Gross* (Of course I called 9-1-1 but I also called Don Samuels, he was in his crime-fighting socks again).  But the past few years, for some good reason the no-accounts leave this building and the parking lot alone.

Not a lot of good is right. Until recently. There was a project sponsored by The Pohlad Foundation, to refresh the facade of a long-time vacant building. The real purpose of the project seems to have been put people to work, put money in their pockets, brush up their skills or train new ones. I'm all for that and if it means the hardscapes of our streets are brightened, refreshed and improved then, really, what is there to complain about? It's a win-win. (Thanks, Pohlads! Your help in our community is welcomed and greatly appreciated!)

Here is a write up in the Strib, and some before and after pictures for history's sake.


Possibilities for this building being used (soon) are in the works and as soon as any info is made public, I'll keep readers informed as best I can. In the mean time, here's my vote to make sure this neat vintage parking lot light fixture is preserved, for character's sake!


  1. geektopia's keeperAugust 25, 2010 at 12:31 PM

    love this building. It is one of the reasons I moved over here. I keep waiting for something to happen there. I think it is perfect for a retro coffee shop...if only.

  2. GK, important people are actively trying to get something going here. Ever since I moved here neighborhood folks like you and me have wanted a coffee shop there. It ended up being at the vacant Burger King building just steps away, and that sadly, didn't work out.

    I always envisioned a garden store. Funky wrought iron garden junk, a few annuals, some other funky indoor/outdoor art, well-worn terra cotta pots of all shapes and sizes. Some master gardener workshops.

    And litter picker-uppers. Free litter picker-uppers for everyone.

    (That's right suckers, I want to gentrify the cr*p outta that corner! Deal with it!)

  3. I called 911 on something weird going on at this property last Sunday afternoon.

    A group of at least 4-5 young Asian men (late teens to mid twenties) appeared to be attempting to use a crowbar on the left-hand garage door on the Penn Avenue side. In broad daylight. There was a full size van parked to the left of the garage door, with the back doors both wide open, and something very large (a pallet?) wedged in there at a steep diagonal.

    I was just driving by and saw only a few seconds, but what little I saw was odd enough to warrant a call.

    Has anyone heard or seen anything about this since then?

  4. Good Call HC, I haven't heard but I'll ask around to some that pay closer attention to the action alerts and street beat. I'll post if I find anything.

  5. I remember when that was a working shop. I agree the retro coffee shop would be wonderful.

  6. Eyedea, tell us what it was like when it was open. What kind of shop? Mechanical? Deets, please!

  7. Well from what I remember they never had cars parked in their lot, I don't know if it was due to the lack of or being able to get there cars in and out so quickly. It was ran by some Romanian men I think. It was well kept (parking lot was atleast) but the paint job probably didn't change for 40 years.

    I don't recall when it closed though. A bike shop would be nice too... or a retro bike shop that sells good coffee

  8. I thought it was a dry cleaners back in the 70's maybe? It definitely has possibilities -- love the garden shop idea, kinda like that one next to Cuppa Java.

  9. For the record...a couple years ago, I was peering into this building after looking at a house on Penn Ave. N., and some cops pulled up, and that was when the infamous "Good luck with that" conversation took place, as documented in some of the earliest posts of my blog.

    Wonderful to see the "urban utopia" progress I dreamed about in 2008 actually happening, and happening at this very spot.