CategoryCommercial Real Estate, Business Development,
Sonora Grill Longfellow is an example of how REDESIGN’s neighborhood business recruitment strategy can make dramatic neighborhood change. The former Embers at 3300 East Lake Street had been empty for several years and had a partially collapsed foundation that caused the private market to steer clear. REDESIGN secured a purchase agreement on the property with the intention to assemble adjacent land for a dense redevelopment. After negotiations with adjoining property owners were unsuccessful, we determined that the existing structure could be reused, and had the foundation repaired to stabilize the building. At the same time, we got to know Conrado Badilla and Alejandro Castillon, owners of the Sonora Grill kiosk at the Midtown Global Market. Their concept had been well received by the press and customers alike, and they were ready to take the next step of a stand-alone brick-and-mortar location. We thought Sonora would be a perfect fit on East Lake Street, which at that time had few sit-down restaurant and bar options.
REDESIGN worked with partner lenders at Neighborhood Development Center and Latino Economic Development Corporation to assemble a financing package anchored by our own Hiawatha Revolving Loan Fund to pay for kitchen build out. Sonora opened in December 2013 to enthusiastic reception from the neighborhood and beyond.
This redevelopment helped set the tone for East Lake Street as a great place to do business. Since Sonora’s opening, East Lake Street has experienced a renaissance in dining. Dogwood Coffee, Hi-Lo Diner, Peppers & Fries, Town Talk Diner and Gastropub, Himalayan Restaurant, and Savory Bake House have all opened nearby, bridging the established shopping area near the river and the restaurants at 27th Avenue to establish a full corridor of options. REDESIGN has stayed highly involved in Sonora’s operations, including bringing in consultants from time to time as they find their footing in a much larger endeavor.