Cambridge approves permit for used car lot in former Federated Co-op location

A used car sales lot will be moving into the former Federated Co-op location at 1401 First Ave. W., Cambridge.

The vacant property located at 1401 First Ave. W., Cambridge, will soon be the location of a used automobile sales lot owned by Kevin Wudel. Photo by Mike Bleninger

During the Cambridge City Council meeting June 19, by a vote of 4-1 with Council Member Kersten Barfknecht-Conley voting against, the council approved an interim use permit to allow for automobile sales in the former Federated Co-op location for two years. The approval was contingent upon the applicants providing the required recording of documents with Isanti County for the transfer of ownership within 30 days.

The council had tabled action on the interim use permit following a discussion at its May 15 meeting.

The property previously had an interim use permit for automobile sales and minor service known as Woody’s Auto that had been issued in March 2014 to Steven Wudel for five years. However, that interim use permit was discontinued due to the death of Steven Wudel in July 2016 and the interim use permit is not transferable.

At the May 15 meeting, the applicant Kevin Wudel, who is the brother of the late Steven Wudel, explained he would be doing both automobile sales and minor auto repair service and work on the property.

However, since that meeting, Community Development Director Marcia Westover explained the interim use permit would be for automobile sales only. Westover explained a parking plan has been presented, and the plan does meet city requirements.

Westover explained the Cambridge Planning Commission had recommended denial of the interim use permit by a 4-3 vote. Westover explained the findings for denial were to be based on automobile sales and service not being a compatible use for the downtown and not a good fit for the future since the inception of the updated Cambridge Comprehensive Plan and the Discover Downtown Cambridge Committee.

“I see both sides on this issue,” said Council Member Joe Morin. “On the one side I see the Planning Commission trying to stay within the requirements of the downtown committee and I’m looking at having someone in there instead of an empty spot. Even if it’s just for another year, I think having something in there is better than nothing. I have been thinking about this quite a bit since we talked about it last time.”

Patrick Neaton, attorney for Kevin Wudel, said he couldn’t find anything in the city’s comprehensive plan, zoning ordinances or with the downtown committee that excludes automobile sales in that location.

“If you don’t approve this interim use permit, you will continue to have a vacant building and the building will keep deteriorating,” Neaton said. “Right now the building is set up for automobile sales. A different type of retail or office type business would require a significant amount of improvements to the building.”

Former Arlington building site
The council approved a purchase agreement for the property at 100 Main St. S., Cambridge, for the Highway 95 expansion and improvement project.

The location at 100 Main St. S. is currently a vacant lot that previously housed the Arlington building before a fire burned the building in March 2015 and the building was demolished.

The purchase agreement was made between the sellers of the property, Princeton Commercial RE Holdings LLC out of Newark, Delaware, and the city of Cambridge. The total purchase price is $65,000 and the closing will take place by July 21. The city will also pay the remaining $1,180 due in property taxes.

Also with the Highway 95 expansion project, the council approved a contract with Patchin, Messner, Dodd and Brumm for appraisal services for the following properties: Casey’s Retail Company, 243 First Ave. E.; Becklin and Whitney Properties, 139 First Ave. E.; Solstice LLC, 147 First Ave. E; and Turpen Realty, 149 First Ave. E.

The purpose of the appraisals is to estimate market values for total acquisition by the city of Cambridge in conjunction with the Highway 95 improvement project. The estimated cost of the appraisal services is not to exceed $27,000.