The Redevelopment of 50th & France: Where Preservation Meets Progress

The intersection of 50th & France has long been a cornerstone of Edina life. However, what was once a thoroughfare for the local farming community has become a humming center of activity for not only neighborhood residents but also area visitors alike. Boasting 175 different retailers, service providers and restaurants, the popular area has become a destination for those seeking small-town charm with big-city amenities. Therefore, the redevelopment of 50th & France will honor the 150-year history of Edina while adding to the future of one of Minneapolis’ most treasured suburbs.

 

A Peek At The Past

 

Travel back to 50th & France a century ago, and you’d find a streetcar corner that was home to sites, such as a creamery, blacksmith, church, garage and general store. Shortly after, in 1929, the beloved Gregg’s Pharmacy opened its doors. With these shops and services so readily available, the basic needs of residents and those traveling through were easily met.

 

In 1934, the historic Edina Cinema opened, infusing Art Deco architecture and entertainment into the landscape. From there, the area continued to expand in size and scope, and a commitment to making the area attractive, accessible and pedestrian-friendly has endured.

 

“At 50th & France, you have everything, from trend-setting boutiques to relaxing spas to fabulous dining,” says Shelly Loberg, director of Explore Edina. “The area has a unique, bustling charisma that a real downtown brings to a community. There are lots of folks living and working here, and soon to be more when the development is complete!”

 

The history and beauty of the neighborhood attracts everyone, from the state and beyond for the annual events in the area. One of the most popular events is the Edina Art Fair, held each June. Voted the top art fair in Minnesota, and 36th in the nation by Art Fair Sourcebook, the free festival features, a craft beer garden, food trucks, a kid zone and work from 280 fine artists from Minnesota, the U.S. and Canada.  2019 will mark the 53rd anniversary of the event.

 

Other popular events include Open Streets on 50th, Style Edina Fashion Show, Pumpkin Fest, a Winter Market, Small Business Saturday and Tree Lighting as well as the Crazy Days sidewalk sale. There are smaller, regular events taking place all throughout the year, too. But any local will tell you that you don’t need a special occasion to visit 50th & France.

 

Pardon the Progress

 

Building on a strong, civic foundation, the 50th & France downtown district is getting an exciting makeover. The city approved the redevelopment last summer, and construction has been underway since January.

 

Rest assured, however, that every store is open for business! Residents and visitors are still encouraged to stop by one of their favorite local and national brands during this transitional period. With 175 different options, that’s a lot of choices! From coffee and shopping to wedding planning and dining, 50th & France is the destination.

 

In the midst of these improvements, Edina public officials also realize the need for convenience. Therefore, they have facilitated complimentary valet parking to alleviate any traffic woes.

 

“We are so thrilled to offer complimentary valet to encourage visitors during this time of redevelopment,” said 50th & France Association Director Rachel Thelemann. “Offering valet services to those getting to appointments and shopping has created an ease to find parking for our customers. The valet personnel are professional and courteous. We are so thankful to our customers that are supporting local businesses.”

 

Valet service has already become a popular option and is provided Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. No tipping is necessary. Anyone choosing not to use the valet will also find plenty of complimentary ramp and street parking, which is marked by signs.

 

Looking to The Future

 

Scheduled for completion in September 2019, the redevelopment of 50th & France will include additional parking, more retail options and beautiful apartments surrounded by a series of picturesque, pedestrian walkways and outdoor plazas. This expansion will enhance the community for nearby residents, as well as bring an influx of renters and tourists who can further support the local economy.

 

“When complete, Market Street will be transformed into a vibrant part of the broader 50th & France business district. The new, public plaza will include landscaped areas, a water feature and an outdoor fireplace. It’s expected to become the hub of community activity through all four seasons,” said city Economic Development Manager Bill Neuendorf.

 

Pedestrian-friendly, welcoming and charming have all been used to describe the neighborhood, making it more of an experience than an intersection. Therefore, the efforts to re-energize the district are intended to retain the character of the area, enriching what makes it special while checking items off the wish list for those who can increase its long-term vitality.

 

Neuendorf continues, “These improvements are designed to better serve the next generation of Edina and Southwest Minneapolis neighbors and are anticipated to sustain 50th & France as one of the best retail destinations in the Twin Cities and Upper Midwest.”

 

When visiting 50th & France, window-shopping is encouraged, but be warned, you may not be satisfied with just a glance. Many shoppers have become repeat customers after seeing all that retailers have to offer. It’s also a wonderful place to shop local and purchase directly from family-owned businesses. Many of the businesses have their own rich history in the community.

 

Edina has long been a destination for day trips, girlfriend getaways, family vacations, meetings and conferences and date nights. The close proximity to Minneapolis makes it less of a trek and more of a temptation. This revitalization initiative will only solidify the neighborhood’s endearing reputation as a must-see Minnesota area.

 

The motto of 50th & France is “It’s a lifestyle” because it not only speaks to the needs but the wants of the area. The inviting downtown has many of the retail and professional services that are essential for life, but also many of the places that make life worth living. Now or later, be sure to stop by when you’re in the area. It’s open for business.