After delays that caused the rumor mill to churn out expectations that they wouldn’t even come to fruition, both of North Branch’s Kwik Trip locations celebrated their official groundbreaking during a ceremony on Tuesday, Aug. 13.
During a presentation before the North Branch city council shortly following the ceremony, Kwik Trip Vice President of Real Estate Scott Teigen talked about the process he and the company went through to reach this special occasion.
“Every member of every community thinks their community is the toughest one to do business in,” Teigen began. “But I want to tell you, I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and I would rate North Branch right up there as one of the easiest communities to work with.”
Tiegen explained that after frequently driving through North Branch, he set his sights on the possibility of building a store at the old elementary school property along Main Street.
“I looked at that site and saw all the houses and thought, ‘Oh, this is going to be a problem.’ But nothing ventured, nothing gained,” Teigen said. “So I called the city and was told pretty directly that they won’t let you go there. So I go to Carla (Vita, North Branch Community Development Director) about the west site, and Carla goes ‘There’s this place you should go down here (on the east side of town).’ So Carla gets all the credit for the east side store.”
Kwik Trip West
The store on the west side of town will be located right next to Neighborhood National Bank, on the south side of Highway 95. It will have an entrance/exit directly off of Highway 95 for eastbound traffic. Teigen explained that the current entrance/exit to Neighborhood National Bank from Highway 95 will be moved a short distance to the west, with a new entrance for the bank off of it.
In addition, there will be two ingress/egress points along 386th Street to the south of the property, along with two off of Tanger Drive to the east.
“There will not be an easier in and out in the area than this one,” Teigen said.
The building itself will be L-shaped and located close to 386th Street (see site plan this page). There will be a regular gas pump canopy in front of the store, with a separate diesel pump canopy to the west of the building.
“This is not a ‘truck stop,’” Teigen emphasized. “Some semis will certainly come in here, but we don’t have but one parking stall, and that’s only for that guy who wants to come in and get a donut.”
There will be a car wash attached to the back of the store at this location.
“The west side project almost died a couple times, for various reasons,” Teigen admitted. “But (city administrator) Renae (Fry) kept old Scott to keep the faith.”
Kwik trip East
According to mayor Jim Swenson and several other members of the council, the east location is the most highly anticipated one.
“Having the east-side location is going to help us on multiple facets,” said council member Brian Voss. “Not just for the ease and convenience for the east-side customers, but I see it as a benefit for the transportation flow through town. Living on the east side myself, I know how it can be in the peak times of the day trying to go to other parts of town ... from a convenience factor it can be very trying.”
The east store occupies the smaller of the two lots. While it will still house the store, plus separate regular and diesel pump canopies – which is a hallmark of Kwik Trip stores – there will only be two entrances, with both coming off the new extension of Maple Street to the south of the property.
“We’re too close to the corner (the intersection of Highway 95 and Grand Avenue) to have access off of Highway 95,” Tiegen explained.
For this location, the car wash will be in a separate building from the main store, located on the far eastern part of the property. According to Fry, that was intentionally done to limit the noise impact as much as possible for the residences in the area.
Just like the west location, the east location is not designed to be a “truck stop,” and doesn’t include any parking stalls for semis outside of the ones designated for the diesel pumps.
The east store already has a “team leader” named – Lindstrom resident Nikki Lieberherr. North Branch resident Jesse Eastman has been named as an assistant store leader; however, for which location is yet to be determined.
“We’re real excited about both of these locations,” Tiegen concluded. “We think both will do very well, but I think Renae and Carla are betting on which one will do better.”
Construction on both locations will begin almost immediately, Fry told the council. The west location will be finished first, with a tentative opening date of Jan. 9, 2020. The east location will follow shortly after that, with a tentative opening date of Feb. 13, 2020.