MINNETONKA — A new liquor store may be coming to Minnetonka pending the City Council’s decision on its liquor license.
The store, which has applied for a liquor license from the city of Minnetonka twice in the past, is the Target at 4848 County Road 101.
Target has applied for a liquor license to open a separate-entrance store at the SuperTarget location, Target spokesperson Angie Thompson told Lakeshore Weekly News.
“This application supports Target’s ongoing efforts to deliver a convenient, one-stop shopping experience for our guests,” Thompson said.
The Minnetonka City Council held a public hearing on the off-sale liquor license at its May 6 meeting. The public hearing will continue at its June 24 meeting.
Target applied for a liquor license in 2015 and again in 2017, in 2015 the license was denied, in 2017 Target withdrew their application, according to a report given by Minnetonka Community Development Director Julie Wischnack at the City Council meeting. The store does have a 3.2 liquor license, which allows it to sell lower alcohol content beer.
The City Council’s main concerns when it comes to liquor licenses in past years, according to Wischnack, has been the number of liquor stores within the city and if the city is adequately served. When Target applied for licenses previously, the City Council decided there were sufficient liquor stores within city limits.
In 2019, Target is planning on purchasing Strong Liquor, a liquor store in Minnetonka and one of the city’s stand-alone liquor license holders. While Target cannot purchase Strong Liquor’s license, it can buy a store to attempt to keep the number of liquor stores in the city the same. If Target is granted a liquor license and it buys out Strong Liquor, the number of stand-alone liquor stores in Minnetonka will stay at 10.
This is the same way Total Wine eased the City Council’s concerns about granting it a liquor license. In 2015, Total Wine applied for a liquor license for a location next to the Whole Foods in Minnetonka, according to Wischnack. The City Council denied the license because it was concerned about traffic flow and it felt the city was adequately served by liquor stores.
In 2016, Total Wine sued the city of Minnetonka for denying it a liquor license for “arbitrary and capricious” reasons, according to City Attorney Corrine Heine.
Total Wine then found a new location on Wayzata Boulevard that did not have traffic flow issues. The company bought out two liquor stores in Minnetonka to outweigh the amount of business the store would do as a larger alcohol retailer.
This process was something new Council member Susan Carter questioned.
“It seems like there is a hyper focus on the number of stand-alone liquor stores and I appreciate that,” Carter said at the City Council meeting. “I’m curious if we’ve ever looked at it not in terms of number, but it sort of feels like a rob Peter to pay Paul situation in that we’ll buy up these two to get this one so we keep this number.”
Another concern addressed by City Council members is the proximity of the Target on Highway 101 to Minnetonka High School and Minnetonka Middle School East.
According to Dana Schleicher, the District Senior Director for Target who presented the application for Target’s liquor license at the May 6 meeting, Target spoke to the principal of Minnetonka High School and the Minnetonka School Board. They were not concerned about the presence of a liquor store at the Minnetonka location.
The City Council voted to continue the public hearing at its June 24 meeting.