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Zoning Vote Moves Mulroy's Auto Shop Closer to Geothermal Heating, Remodeled Office Space

Mulroy's Auto Body Shop, on Nicollet Avenue and 39th Street, is seeking a commercial zoning designation.

With a unanimous Thursday morning vote of the Minneapolis Zoning and Planning Committee, on Nicollet Avenue and 39th Street came a step closer to starting work on a major remodel that will include a geothermal heating and cooling system and revamped office space.

“We’re getting kind of excited,” said Pat Mulroy, the shop’s owner. “Our first thing that we’re going to be working on is we need to have a delivery door installed on the north side of our building to get the pressure off the residential street.”

The Zoning and Planning Committee followed the City Planning Commission’s May 7 recommendation to approve rezoning the Mulroy’s lot from the designation “two-family residential” into a “neighborhood corridor commercial district.”

Mulroy’s residential zoning has presented a host of problems to the auto shop business, including restrictions on renting office space, a mandatory 5 p.m. closing time and limitations on signage.

Pat Mulroy said that his lot was originally zoned commercial until ’70s-era downzoning and that he sees the move toward commercial rezoning as a desirable return.

“I think they’re putting things back the way they should, and then we’re looking at Nicollet Avenue next year having a total makeover—high-pressure gas, new sewer and water—anticipating a possibility of those street cars coming back,” he said. “Nicollet’s going to become a more vital business area than it is residential.”

If the rezoning passes the city council and is signed by the mayor, Mulroy plans on tearing up his parking lot to put in the geothermal system before the end of 2012 and, afterward, looks to remodel his office space to fix sinking floors and provide space for renters.

“There’s a need for those smaller guys,” he said. “We’re providing a smaller space, an incubator.”

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