Even before road construction is finished, the area around 54th Street and Lyndale Avenue looks set to reap rewards from the project.
In addition to pre- and post-natal yoga studio Blooma's impending move to part of the former Hollywood Video space on the 5300 block of Lyndale, local frozen yogurt shop Freestyle Yogurt is set to open a new location next to Prima in March 2013.
Owner Dave Brandner told Patch in an interview Tuesday that the road and bridge construction projects were a key element of his decision to open a branch in Southwest Minneapolis. The extra-wide sidewalks included in the plan, he said, offered prime space for sidewalk seating, and the neighborhood's relative lack of a nearby "entertainment district" like 50th and France meant that Freestyle's new shop could have many natural customers. Having a yoga studio, Annunciation School, and Anytime Fitness as neighbors made the area even more attractive.
"A family of four can get very reasonable portions for just $15," he said. "It's a great night out, and a deal when you compare it to spending $45 going out to Applebee's."
Today's frozen yogurt companies are a far cry from the TCBY shops that many remember from the 1980's and 1990's, where "frozen yogurt" seemed more like a synonym for "soft-serve ice cream" than anything that could remotely be called healthy. At popular West Calhoun shop Yogurt Lab—soon to open a second location at 50th and France—there is plenty of crumbled candy and hot fudge on offer, but around half of their toppings are things like plain nuts, strawberries, or pomegranate seeds.
Freestyle Yogurt's Brandner touted his product's healthiness when compared to ice cream, making it an attractive dessert alternative for Minneapolis' health-conscious consumers. Over the last year, several self-serve frozen yogurt shops like Freestyle have opened across the Twin Cities, riding a wave of popularity.
"Our product has around one-third the calories of ice cream, half the sugar, and 95 percent of our flavors have no cholesterol," he said. "Plus, every yogurt flavor is full of live and active cultures."
Those bacteria, yogurt boosters say, promote gastrointestinal health and help the body's immune system.
Despite these many compelling reasons to open up a store in the South Lyndale area, Brandner said it took him several months to decide on Freestyle's new location, because of the old building's structural quirks. Gigantic concrete columns and beams fill its interior, squeezing headroom and floor plans in odd spots. They make it a challenge to shoehorn a modern interior into the old space, as many contemporary designs depend on a lot of headroom for aesthetics and to hide utilities like air conditioning.
Blooma's arrival and Freestyle's pending opening leaves just one ground-level space empty in the building, the awkwardly-shaped former foyer of what was once the Boulevard Theater.