As things were wrapping up at the July 5th Wayzata City Council meeting, Mayor Ken Willcox stated, “The current edition of Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine has an article on Wayzata, and it has to do mostly with retail, and slowness, and we’re seasonal, and what’s going to happen.

Council member Johanna McCarthy indicated she had read the article and remarked in response, “It’s very similar to, very reminiscent of many of the conversations at the Planning Commission and also here in Council Chambers when we meet. I thought maybe someone was going back through our old meetings.”

Willcox stated, “It’s Deja Vu all over again.”

The article is titled: If You Build It, Will They Come? New restaurants, a new hotel . . . and a lot of vacant retail space. Taking stock of Wayzata.” Written by popular blogger, radio host, and shopping guru Ali Kaplan, she highlights the challenges that Wayzata faces having built an incredible amount of retail space and the fact that the uber wealthy “apparently don’t even buy enough sandwiches to keep the lights on at  Lunds & Byerlys Kitchen…”

Radio host, blogger, and shopper Ali Kaplan. Image courtesy LinkedIn.
Radio host, blogger, and shopper Ali Kaplan. Image courtesy LinkedIn.


Kaplan’s keen insight into the situation is highlighted in two sentences, “As I walk past the Promenade’s empty storefronts, many of which are hidden within the development and not even visible from the street, I find myself wondering how any developer could get this far without being sure the demand would really be there.”

Screenshot of article about Wayzata in Mpls St Paul Magazine.

There are a number of other insightful observations by Kaplan, including the Wayzata tax base being both blessing and curse, the desire by most retailers to be able to draw consumers from 360 degrees–which the lake prevents. She also notes recent renovations and expansion at Ridgedale have complicated the situation as well.

Kaplan quotes Mayor Willcox, Promenade leasing agent Jesseka Doherty of Mid-America Real Estate, and Terri Huml owner of Gianni’s Steakhouse as she makes these observations.

Kaplan also mentions the two elephants in the room: Winter & Amazon. (See a recent article on Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods and the impact it is having on local retail in places like Wayzata.)

While a number of residents and stakeholders up until this point have wondered quietly when (or if) the spaces in the Promenade could be filled, the timely article poses the question publicly and in a well read major media outlet.

If you have an opinion on the subject, or have a suggestion as to how to help with the situation, please comment in the areas below or visit the Facebook page and leave your comments there.

Mpls.St.Paul Magazine writer Ali Kaplan asks, "Was Wayzata too ambitious in its Retail Expansion Strategy?" What are…

Posted by on Thursday, July 6, 2017

Comments from Facebook users:

Diane Hansen OlivieriIt was once so wonderful. Once so quaint. Once a small town. Bridgemans, Foresome…A and W.

Rebecca Borgert Green: Don’t get me started. Ali hit it right on the money.

Betty Quastyes, they have way over spent. It is not the same cute little town it use to be.

John FrickstadOver built….yeah.

Linda RoalIt is a good article but I think it’s aim is wrong. The aim is wrong. I’ve been almost a lifetime resident of Wayzata. The City council intentionally allowed Huge expansion of restaurants, etc w/ extremely inadequate parking compared to national urban-planning norms. Our local-long time shops & restaurants could not afford t/triple lease raises w/in the last few years.
I’m normally Not axpessimist but my informed personal opinion was that this was simply driven by a City council who only focused on increased tax revenue. Wayzata has sold out its morals & anything resembling its history of a charming, elegant town. Of course people like Excelsior more. Who wants to have to walk/ or be shuttled a long way just to visit. In my view the City council only saw “visitor’s” money at the price of those who are near-by residents & not -surprisingly t/tourists aren’t coming. Be sure you vote your heart, what ever it is in local elections.

Elizabeth Muffy Babcock Lokowich: Yes- 💯 too much. How many vacancies does the promenade area have..? When I drove through on the 4th, the interior storefronts were 100% vacant… city planning?

Jan Vickery Lillemo: It doesn’t have the same cozy feel it always had. It’s hard to find parking, and is way too built up. Very sad.

Wendy Briggs: It used to be quaint and unpretentious. No small task for a tiny town on a lake with a lot of wealth. I don’t recognize it any more when I visit. The quaintnesa has been replaced with gauche, ultra modern condos and tony little businesses. The cafe, the theater, A&W. Walking across the tracks and sitting on the rocks just to watch the lake. Time marches on everywhere, but I don’t have to like it.

Gregg Johnson: They have created a large eye soar on the lake!

Carol Severin Johnson: Too bad-I was looking forward to checking out the old town on summer vacation, Life marches on

Harriet Peterson: It is sad to see what the leaders of the city of Wayzata have done. It seems to be ” all about money”. It was such a treasure for years but now is just another one of “those shopping places” I will avoid it all. !

Jimmy Leuer: Wayzata has changed to a crazy large town in a nice small town. City council did a terrible job developing a once beautiful small town into a city to big for its borders. Very disappointing the way it turned out for someone that has lived in wayzata for 54 years.

Dave Boies: The character of the town has been changed in a negative way. The friendly little shops and restaurants have been replaced. Wayzata has lost that small town feel as its grown. Having worked in Wayzata for many years, now that I don’t work there, I don’t go there but once or twice per year and I still live within 10 miles of town.

Andrew Cullen: The article is ok. It touches on some truths. Wayzata priced their own residents out, meaning “most” people even if they can ( financially), won’t take a leap into the retail world b/c of the cost. Wayzata positioned themselves to make it less accessible for “mom and pop” shops, but available only to National chains or more of a corporate style store like Anthro. The old pizza joints and family owned clothing stores are no more for the most part.

Wayne Grover: It’s not the place I grew up in anymore. Sad.

Join the Conversation


  1. I concede that the size and scale of the preshomes project was too much for wayzata but many of the new shops and restaurants are welcomed by residents and neighbors alike, in fact the very same magazine that dan gustafson references also published an article about all the fun things to do in wayzata in the summer, just some additional info for folks
    not really interested in debating folks on this topic each and everyone is entitled to their opinion

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *