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January 13, 2013

Crossroads vs Wild Wings case could be nearing conclusion

After more than a year in legal limbo, the final fate of a plan to build a second Buffalo Wild Wings in Rochester could possibly be officially resolved in the next few months.

On Thursday morning, the Minnesota Court of Appeals is slated to hear the dispute between the owners of the Crossroads Shopping Center and BWW owner Graf Enterprises and as well as the City of Rochester.

6a00d83451cc8269e20167682ff83d970b-800wiThe Crossroads owners, Bob Meek and Vic Scott, are once again taking their objections to a higher court. They object to Tom Graf's development plan to build a 7,000-square-foot sports bar and eatery in front of the shopping center.

This all started when Graf purchased Pannekoeken Huis restaurant and then demolished it in September 2011 to clear space to build a south side version of his very popular, north Rochester Buffalo Wings sports bar.

He submitted a building plan to the city, which approved the project in December 2011. The Crossroads folks say the plan does not actually meet the city's requirements and should never have been OKed as it is.

The approved plan calls for 55 spaces — 35 on Graf's plot of land and 20 spaces in the surrounding Crossroads parking lot. The mall owners contend that that the 20 parking spaces on their property could limit future expansion plans. They say they would welcome the Buffalo Wild Wings, if all of the parking was restricted to land owned by Graf.

Meek and Scott first took their objections to the Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals. When the board ruled in favor of the Graf project, Crossroads appealed to the Rochester City Council. The council backed the zoning board's decision.

Next the mall owners filed the lawsuit against Graf and the city of Rochester to appeal the council's ruling. In June, Olmsted County Judge Nancy Buytendorp dismissed the lawsuit saying, "Crossroads has no justifiable controversy to pursue this lawsuit against the city of Rochester or Graf…"

Crossroads responded by filing for an appeal of Buytendorp's ruling claiming she applied the wrong standard of judgment to the case.

As the case has been batted around courtrooms by attorneys, Graf has repeatedly said that no matter how case is finally resolved, he still plans to build a BWW on his land in front of Crossroads.

If he loses, he'll adjust the plans to meet the rules. If he wins definitively, then Graf will turn Weis Builders loose to start work on the square of dirt surrounded by Crossroads pavement  and in the shadow of "Coming Soon" sign.

On Thursday, a panel of three judges in St. Paul will give both sides 15 minutes each to make their case. Graf's attorney and the City of Rochester's attorney will split their side's 15 minutes.

The appeals court will have up to 90 days to issue a ruling on whether Judge Buytendorp's erred in her judgment in favor of Graf and the city.

One possible course of action that could stretch out this case even more would be a ruling that sends the case back to Olmsted County to be decided by a jury trial.

Even if that doesn't happen, it could still be a while before Graf's plan to build moves ahead.


Really? OK, I have NEVER seen that parking lot full....and the lure of Pier One, Master Jewelers, etc right there should bring business for Crossroads UP....sounds like a "peeing match" to me....

Yea there is pleny of parking there, they always want to delay projects-just Get-r-done.

Kiger, did you hear what the outcome was yesterday from the 3 Judge Panel up in St. Paul?

Did hear some about it. The three judge panel (or at least 2 of the 3) asked a lot of questions.

They have 90 days to issue decision. So the wait for final resolution continues.

I have to side with the Crossroads people on this one. While the lot is never full, it's still their lot. This would be like Clements parking 100 cars in the Apache Mall lot because hey, it's not full, and it's right next door. Why can't they put up signs "Crossroads only parking, violators towed". Many other businesses around town do that.
I have a 3rd stall in my garage that doesn't have a car in it, but I don't want my neighbor putting their vehicle in it.
Not BWs land regardless if it is being used.

Has BWs approached the owners about leasing some of the parking spaces, or do they just expect to get them for free?

The city considers the BWWs site to part of the Crossroads Center, since it can only be accessed by traveling through the Crossroads lot.

An example is the Paragon Chateau theater/ShopKo North center in northeast Rochester. While the commercial complex that includes the Hot Fish Shop and BB's Pizza is under different ownership, the city considers it to be part of the business center.

So the city has OKed the plan and Graf has an approved building permit. However, the Crossroads owners dispute the city standard, which is the heart of this case.

Another example is the Texas Roadhouse that was supposed to come in front of Sams Club-what happened to that project, do they have parking issues too?


this was the most current mention I could find in the P-B's archives:

I wonder who the "Big Box Store" mentioned could possibly be...:)

Kiger, I think you need to go and interview the Rochester/Olmsted County Planning Dept. Just because the lot is considered a part of the Crossroad Business Center I don't think that gives them the right to their parking stalls. The "business center" label only defines how you can calculate your required number of stalls for your lot/development. A cross parking and a access aggreement and/or easement would still be required to be recorded at the county. Since these plans have been approved by both the city and county, I'm assuming these agreements/easements exist. This project/lawsuit would then be a slam it.

Eater - There is an easement and the city does believe the building plan meets its requirements.

Crossroads believes the city requirements are incorrect and unfair. Basically, they see it as somebody stealing their land.

So since the two sides can't agree, there is a lawsuit.

Graff was telling everybody whose site he looked at that he needed 125 parks,then goes and buys a site with 35. With all his real estate knowledge he should just buy the whole center.
The city knows that center can not take on more restaurants with the parking ratio as Chipolte (Boston Market) had to buy parking spaces from a neighbor when they went in.

Something still doesn't sound right. If there is a legally recorded easement, that doesn't mean it includes parking. It could just be an access easement. Is it possible that the easement is a defined 20 foot access easement only for cross access to get from a public right-of-way to the lot and doesn't say anything about parking?

Eater - I interviewed the Planning Dept. at the beginning of this. They OKed the BWW plan. I reported their position as well as Crossroad's. I'm no legal expert.I just report what people tell me and wait for a final court decision. It seems to me both sides are very committed to this, so it will go as long as the courts will hear it.

Pannakoken never had a problem with parking that i know of? Yes i know BWW will be busier im just saying there was a resturant there before, not like they are adding more that one new resturant.

That's true, Mike. The issue with that point is that the city's parking requirements have changed since Pann. was built. So BWW is a different deal than the previous place.

I say if it doesn't go through, then they should build a two story BWW. More parking that way.

Kind of sort of sounds like a good old fashioned peeing match over.....wait for Crossroads wants money from the BWW dude. Drove around there for twenty minutes this afternoon trying to find a spot. OK. I lied. I hope BWW gets this thing settled.....the southside could use another option. No offense to Outback.

Any news?

Mr. Kiger? News?

Why don't they give up and move to a different spot? There are plenty of empty buildings on the south side of Rochester. There is the former Old Navy and Best Buy South. These buildings are bigger and there is plenty of parking space. BWW's definitely needs more than 35 parking spaces. Look at the north store now. Plus maybe you could hear when you go in to the establishment. The BWW's in the suburbs of Mpls. are big and you can go in and eat, watch sports and actually have a conversation.

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