Menards and the Richfield City Council seemed blindsided Tuesday night when Burger King (140 E. 78th St.) owner Greg Dolphin, the property owners and their legal representation asked the council to stall the Menards redevelopment.
After the council approved two necessary items—including a conditional use permit to rebuild on Menards’ current site and the former Jun Bo Chinese Restaurant property—Burger King reps jumped in during a public hearing regarding the plat. The plat approval was the last thing needed before the end of the year to keep Menards on schedule.
Burger King proposed that the Menards redevelopment include moving the fast food restaurant to the northwest corner of the property and possibly adding a 21st Century Bank location to the mix.
As some may recall, Richfield Patch previously reported that Menards had hoped to reach an agreement with Burger King to do just that, however, the deal fell through for financial reasons and Menards moved on. The Burger King team alleged that once Menards purchased the Jun Bo property, they were left behind.
“Menards told us they would keep us apprised,” Gregg Nelson, the son of the original restaurant builder and property owner, said. “Then they wouldn’t take our calls."
Berg was visibly miffed by Burger King owners’ attempt to sway the council, saying firmly that he refused to go back and forth on what’s true and what isn’t. He also alleged that one of the reasons for the stall in negotiations was due to Burger King insisting that Menards purchase the restaurant's land and also pay for the building of the new location.
“There are two issues: money and time,” Theron Berg, Menards' real estate manager, said somewhat irritated. “I’ll say it again, and I’ve said it for the last six months, we need approval by the end of the year. … If it is not approved tonight, the [Richfield] store will not be in the [redevelopment] queue for this year.”
Mayor Debbie Goettel—who was a fan of the proposal—asked if there was a way to work it out, however, Berg was more than skeptical of finding a solution.
“There’s not a solution,” Berg said. “The site plan they proposed doesn’t work for us.”
While Burger King presented quite a good case, and many in the audience would’ve thought victory was close behind, the council ultimately decided to approve the plat despite concerns of possible legal action against the city. The vote was unanimous.
“I have to admit that I am severely distressed,” Council Member Pat Elliott said before the vote. “Menards has been in front of us a number of times. … I’m offended at the way this came about. … You (Burger King) weren’t there. You sat and waited. … I’m not going to reconsider. I going to vote for the plat and you do whatever you want to do.”
Regardless of Berg’s belief that no solution could be reached between the two parties, final site plans have not been approved yet—and Goettel encouraged the two to work it out.
“I don’t know what happened in the past [with your negotiations],” Goettel said. “At this point it doesn’t matter because you can’t change the past. … I hope you go back to the table.”