WHITE BEAR LAKE — Downtown is losing a parking spot but gaining upgraded electrical service.
A new restaurant on Washington Square needs a different type of voltage to operate its equipment, so a new transformer will be installed in the city-owned parking lot on Banning Avenue.
A parking stall next to the enclosed dumpster was decidedly the best place for the 8-by-6-foot electrical box, which City Council approved May 28.
Brick House Food and Drink is preparing to open this fall at 4746 Washington Ave. Rust Architects is doing work on the building's restoration and informed city staff it needed three-phase electrical service. No transformers in the area have that capability.
It is anticipated that other downtown business owners will need to upgrade their electrical capacity as building uses on that block change over time, noted City Engineer Paul Kauppi. Brick House will pay for the new transformer.
Kauppi anticipates gaining at least one parking space next year after the lot is reconstructed, making up for the lost spot.
The restaurant, billed as an upscale steakhouse, will seat 114 patrons on two floors and another 46 on an outside roof deck. The building was formerly Olive's Pizza Bar, which closed in 2017. The daughter of owner Tim Lawin will manage the eatery. Lawin also owns the Dellwood Country Club.
In other business at the May 28 meeting, the council:
• Approved the sale of general obligation bonds for 2019 street improvement projects. A total of $2.1 million was authorized for the annual street reconstruction and mill and overlay projects.
• Accepted a donation from the White Bear Lake Lions Club in the amount of $9,200. The money will be used for improvements of the Lions Pavilion at Lakewood Hills Park. “Once again, the Lions show their generosity to the community. We appreciate that,” said Mayor Jo Emerson.
• Approved amended language to the County Road E revolving loan and grant program, acting as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority. The program is modeled after the downtown program to encourage small- and medium-sized businesses to locate along the corridor. Business owners are also eligible for $3,000 grants, noted City Planner Anne Kane, to be used for exterior improvements. Inconsistent language was brought to the city's attention by a potential purchaser of property on one of the four corners of E and Bellaire Avenue.
• Heard a presentation from high school environmental club adviser Amy Donlin. The students made a three-minute video called “A Change of Heart” that was entered in a Climate Smart Municipalities competition. Sixteen other Minnesota schools as well as some from Germany entered the contest, which emphasizes energy efficiency and sustainability. The video is also entered in a contest sponsored by the St. Paul Saints called “Your Big Idea.” The winner receives $5,000 and throws out the first pitch at the June 8 Saints game.
• Heard from City Manager Ellen Hiniker that an application for a downtown concert will be forthcoming from the owners of Kellerman Event Center. The Aug. 3 concert will feature The Cadillac Three and Devon Worley Band in the parking lot behind Big Wood Brewery. Hours have not been set, but event organizers prefer 3 to 11 p.m.; Hiniker said the city prefers 3 to 10 p.m. The concert would require closure of Fourth and Third Streets and Cook and Banning. Food trucks would be located on Third Street. “Staff is supportive,” Hiniker said. Security and logistics have to be worked out.