Redevelopment plans for Antlers Park in Lakeville will include a place to buy food and drink – and that building will take the form of two 40ft shipping containers side by side.
“I think this will add a permanent and reliable dining option for visitors to Antlers Park,” said city administrator Justin Miller. “We can not wait to be there.”
The city, which passed a $38 million parks bond referendum last year, is investing $11.5 million to renovate Antlers Park, located in southwest Lakeville. The project will add more parking, picnic shelters, a new playground, a volleyball court and a pavilion with washrooms and a meeting room.
Members of council were also interested in the idea of a restaurant, although the parks and recreation committee voted unanimously against the idea and some neighbors opposed it at a town hall meeting. work in April. They said the public had not been consulted on the plans and were concerned about the availability of alcohol, traffic and additional noise.
Earlier this year, two companies created restaurant proposals and the city council chose a walk-in food and beverage concept from Lakeville Brewing Co. that would sell burgers, fish tacos, beer and wine. Lakeville Brewing owns a brewery in downtown Lakeville and also owns Inver Grove Brewing in Inver Grove Heights.
The concessions building, which will be approximately 1,280 square feet but will only have outdoor seating, is tentatively called “LBC on the Lake.”
Last week, the city council passed several changes to the city’s code to allow the restaurant to sell food and drink and have a patio. The board also approved a franchise agreement with Lakeville Brewing.
Council members voted 4-1 and 3-2 on the measures. Council members Michelle Volk and Joshua Lee expressed concerns about the project.
Lee, who voted against both measures, said he would have preferred to wait until the park was redone to discuss a restaurant.
“I didn’t think there was enough community support for the park changes…and we haven’t resolved the impact it will have on traffic and parking,” Lee said.
Volk said she was unconvinced by the concept of a restaurant in the park.
The restaurant will be open from May 15 to September 15 from 2024, with some flexibility for a longer season weather permitting. Beer and wine, which are already permitted in the park, must be consumed on the covered patio if purchased from LBC on the Lake.
The city will fund the concrete slab, fencing, dumpster enclosure and install utilities at a cost of approximately $123,000.
Lakeville Brewing will purchase the shipping containers and outfit everything inside at an estimated cost of $348,000. Lakeville Brewing will donate 7% of its profits to Lakeville over the term of the five-year lease, which can be renewed.
The city should recoup its investment in three years, said Don Seiler, co-owner of Lakeville Brewing, who said he was “very positive” about the projects.
“The city should get revenue, which could offset the rest of the park’s costs,” he said.
Seiler said his business partner is working on the menu for the venue. Business owners will meet with the city to discuss design options, on which the city has final approval.
Most of the exterior of the containers will be clad in typical commercial building materials such as brick or stone.
“We want the building to blend in. We don’t want it to stand out or be ugly,” he said.
Lakeville Brewing suggested the shipping containers because the city was struggling with the high cost of a fixed structure, Seiler said.
Initial estimates were close to $1 million to build the restaurant’s shell. Containers are “much more cost effective”, he said.
Seiler said the shipping containers would somehow pay homage to Antlers Park’s past. A century ago, the park was on the railroad tracks from Minneapolis, and city dwellers visited the park and Lake Marion as a getaway. There used to be a bandstand, a dance hall and a restaurant.
Seiler said he knows not everyone is in favor of putting a restaurant in the park.
“But….we’re going to do our best to be very good neighbours,” he said. “We hope to make people happy with that.”
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