After 106 years on campus, Harvard Market is closing at midnight today to make room for a new luxury apartment project.
The incoming complex will include a CVS/pharmacy, but until that opens in August 2012, Stadium Village will be without a grocery store.
Assistant Manager Dana Kabitzke said she’s been directing customers to the Metro Petro gas station five blocks away and to Dinkytown, nine blocks away, while the neighborhood waits.
“We really are the only store and sometimes you just need a thing of milk or eggs,” she said. “There’s nowhere you can get that without walking a mile or having to take a bus.
“I think it would have been a better idea to put in another grocery store [than a pharmacy],” she said.
Kabitzke said she has worked at the market for six years, including the last three since she graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007.
“There’s something about this place … You get a lot of drunk people and homeless people, in addition to the students,” she said. “You can go on autopilot at most jobs but here it’s something different every night. You could fill a book of things that happen here.”
Students shopping Saturday morning for last minute ingredients and snacks expressed their frustrations with the closing.
“We usually come here just because we don’t have a car,” University sophomore Jennifer Webeler said, holding a bag of mozzarella for a pizza she and a friend would later make. “I wouldn’t buy a week’s worth of groceries here just because it is expensive. But once it is gone I’ll probably be like, ‘OK, where am I going to go now?’”
Sophomore Lydia Veeder agreed.
“It’s just one of those hole-in-the-wall places that’s always been around,” Veeder said. “It’s like a tradition almost. If you graduated like 20 years ago you’ll probably remember Harvard Market, just like you remember Campus Pizza.
“It’s just like one of those things that people in the past know about and now it’s gone.”
Gerald Reedy, who lives just a couple blocks away, said he’s been going to Harvard Market every other day for the past 15 years.
He usually picks up items like milk, bread and butter but said he wasn’t sure what he’d do without the store.
“I’m sorry to see it go,” Reedy said. “We need a grocery store.”
“I’ll have to make a big, long trip just for milk,” he said.
Construction to begin in February
The original Harvard Market stood on Washington Avenue Southeast and Harvard Street Southeast and was established in 1904.
Brad Mateer, the current Harvard Market owner, bought the grocery store in 1996 and later sold it after setting up the current location in 1997. For a short time, the market had two locations.
Mateer said he left the original location because he couldn’t afford the upkeep. Similar problems forced him to sell the current building, which included Photo Dock and Campus Pizza’s old locations, as well.
“It was more than I could financially handle,” Mateer said, noting it would be difficult to come up with the money to make the needed improvements on the building.
“[Student housing] really makes sense for the area,” he said. “We have a new stadium. We have new excitement on campus. We have a lot of different things going on, and it really seemed like the right decision for the community itself.”
Opus Development Corp., the company managing the construction of Stadium Village Flats, has been pursuing plans for the space for three years but had repeatedly delayed construction due to the slow market and restructuring of the business.
Construction is now scheduled to begin in February with the demolition of Harvard Market and the building next door, which most recently held a fortune-telling business.
Originally Stadium Village Flats was going to be twice as large, knocking out even more buildings, including the Oak Street Cinema. But the developers later decided to scale down the project to better meet the neighborhood’s housing needs.
News of the incoming apartments prompted Campus Pizza’s owner to relocate the restaurant across Washington Avenue in 2009. The move proved costly for owner, Jim Rosvold, who has said that he lost thousands of dollars on rent from moving from their old location.
After the space was vacant, however, Mateer said he invited the University Christian Ministry Association and various religious groups to use the space for free.
Serenity Ward, president of the Christian group Campus Ambassadors, said it was invaluable to have the centralized location at their disposal.
“I don’t know how the [UCMA] will be able to fill the void once that’s gone,” Ward said. “It was a wonderful opportunity to be there.”
Reflecting on his 14 years on campus, Mateer said he had always tried to put the community first.
“It’s our people that are important,” Mateer said. “We’ve tried to serve the community for years.”