Forest Lake bustles with development

Photo by Ryan Howard
A new PetSmart will be opening next to Aldi in Forest Lake this fall.

Lots of development projects are afoot in Forest Lake. The Lighthouse Lofts apartment project on Lake Street has been getting a lot of attention as of late, but a number of other residential and commercial projects are underway in the city, including the following developments.

Glenborough projects

Developer Glenborough is currently retooling two building spaces that it owns along 12th Street Southwest: the old Crown Auto building, which will house a Tim Horton’s restaurant and two other, to-be-determined occupants, and the other half of the old Rainbow Foods space next to Aldi, which will become a PetSmart. Dick Kvanbeck, Minnesota general manager at Glenborough, told The Times that he expects both projects to open in or near October.

The Crown building will keep its structural shell, but everything else, including roofing, utility lines and parking lot, will be replaced. A drive-thru window will be installed for Tim Horton’s customers.

While demolition has been underway at the Tim Horton’s site, much of the work Aldi shoppers have seen at the PetSmart location has involved remodeling the storefront.

“A lot of the interior framing … is nearing completion,” as well, Kvanbeck noted.

The Times attempted to contact PetSmart about what sort of services the Forest Lake location will offer but did not receive additional information before press time. Several jobs for the Forest Lake location have been posted on PetSmart’s website, including positions involving animal training and grooming.

Old Cheung Sing site

A multi-tenant building that could feature some long-requested restaurant options in Forest Lake is being planned for the site of the old Cheung Sing building and the now-empty lot to its west, on the south side of Broadway Avenue. Local businessmen Steve Saunders and Mick Roberts are working on developing the property, and Saunders is hopeful construction can begin this fall.

“We’d like to start in the middle of September and go through the winter,” he said.

As far as who would occupy such a building, Saunders said there have been talks with multiple potential tenants, including some that would satisfy residents who have long clamored for more fast-casual dining chains in the city.

“(Among others), we’re looking at Dunkin’ Donuts; we’re looking at Panera Bread; we’re looking at Chipotle,” Saunders said.

Saunders said that several potential tenants are unsure about locating to the property because they are unsure of how customer egress from the site will look. Saunders said he and Roberts are currently working with the city and with the surrounding businesses to ensure that customers will be able to easily and smoothly enter and exit the site.

Saunders was also proud of a recycling effort of sorts at the lots. The building on the west lot, which has housed a few different businesses recently, was removed a few months ago, but it was not demolished.

“That yellow building was taken down piece by piece and was actually transported to Sandstone,” Saunders said.

He added that he and Roberts try to reuse or help others reuse resources as much as possible and said he was pleased that the duo now also has interest from a group interested in taking down and reassembling the old Cheung Sing building elsewhere.

Cornerstone building

Local businessman and former Mayor Stev Stegner plans to start construction soon on the first phase of a project he’s calling Cornerstone Plaza, which he hopes will revitalize the stretch of properties flanked by Lake Street to the east, Centennial Drive to the west, 3rd Avenue to the north and 4th Avenue to the south. Notable buildings currently in this area include Total Auto Care and the former location of Forest Lake Small Engine.

Submitted graphic
A new building that will house a medical office,a restaurant and one other tenant is projected to be built by next spring along Lake Street near 3rd and 4th Avenue.

Stegner expects phase one of the project – a three-unit, 7,500-square-foot building along Lake Street – will begin construction in the next month or two.

“We have two of the three spaces leased, and one is a medical office and the other is a small restaurant,” he said, explaining that the businesses don’t want to be identified publicly yet.

Work on phase one is planned to wrap up next spring, and Stegner hopes to begin phase two, a larger, two-story building focused on medical offices along Centennial Drive, in the fall of 2018. He said that building is already attracting interested parties. The buildings will not be connected, but Stegner said he ultimately hopes to create a campus feel with a shared parking lot, provided he can acquire property between the two structures.

Stegner originally planned the development a few years ago, but he put the project on hold after the 2014 election.

“When I became mayor, I did not want there to be a conflict of interest,” he said.

Now that the project is up and running again, he decided to flip which half of the development is built first, citing the interest of the city and residents in rehabilitating land along Lake Street/U.S. Highway 61.

Residential roundup

A number of residential developments are also in progress around Forest Lake. West of Forest Hills Golf Course is the still-developing Chestnut Creek neighborhood, one of the biggest housing subdivisions in the city’s recent history. Some homes have already been constructed, with more planned for the future. The Times reached out to Chestnut Creek’s representation for more details but did not receive a response before press time.

Work on the Headwaters development also continues, with the Forest Lake City Council signing off in June on the final plat for the 11th addition to the project, an 11-lot area northwest of Lakes International Language Academy’s Headwaters campus. Work will also be done on a roundabout at Fenway Avenue and Headwaters Parkway, as well as on road construction to connect the southern portion of the parkway to U.S. Highway 61.

The Arbor Ridge luxury apartments are moving closer to completion as well, with the four-story, one- and two-bedroom apartment complex on the east side of 8th Street Southwest slated for a fall opening. A call to the developer for more information was not returned before press time, but details on leasing and floor plans can be found at

  • Michelle Pavlick

    I wish they would bring more entertainment for kids and families, such as a roller rink or bowling alley, right in town.