A property management company bought the plot of land housing the Arby’s on Washington Avenue, which could drive out the restaurant from the University of Minnesota area.
Arby’s lease ends in 2014, and the business is unsure whether it will remain or be replaced by apartment buildings.
CPM Property Management snagged the property with a total of almost 2 acres, or 85,000 square feet, of land around it.
The future of all of that land is still unclear.
Manager Jack LaBrasseur said he knew there were other plans in the making for the area when Arby’s signed its five-year lease in 2009.
Sophomore Rob Mahlum, who eats at Arby’s regularly, said it would be “really unfortunate” if Arby’s closed.
“There’s no other place like Arby’s around.”
The next closest Arby’s is more than 2.5 miles away on Snelling Avenue in St. Paul.
Daniel Oberpriller, co-founder of CPM, said there has been a lot of discussion about building more apartments in the area, but nothing is set.
“It could be a wide variety of businesses,” Oberpriller said. “We’re looking for the highest and best use of the property.”
CPM’s goal, he said, is to dramatically enhance the area because the land is at a major intersection and will have the Central Corridor light rail running directly in front of it.
“We’ve been looking at what’s not in the area and what can be in the area.”
CPM co-founder Nick Walton, said there will be a meeting next Tuesday with the Prospect Park neighborhood group to “get the neighborhood’s input and start a relationship with them.”
No specific businesses have made inquiries about being on the land yet.
“We really like the idea of first floor retail with housing above,” Walton said. “We just don’t know the sizes yet.”
LaBrasseur said he knew it was mainly student housing looking at the area and that the Opus Group had been serious about buying the land originally but then backed out.
Opus, whose Stadium Village Flats broke ground near campus in May, did not respond to multiple calls for comment.
If the end decision is to build more apartments or other housing, LaBrasseur said Arby’s is uncertain if it would be able to maintain the business.
“About 45 percent of our business comes from drive-thru,” he said. “A drive-thru doesn’t work with student housing.”
He would like to keep the business on campus, but ultimately the decision is up to the owner of Arby’s.
“The lease would have to be pretty good terms.”