Caught up today with the developer of The Shops at West End who has been working against odds to lease the new outdoor center at Highway 100 and 394 in St. Louis Park that broke ground just before the economy crashed. It's taken considerably longer than expected, but that's partly because they are sticking to their original upscale concept, targeting fashionable, urban women 20-55 who want the latest - as long as parking is convenient and free. The payoff will finally start to be realized in April and May with the opening of Lululemon Athletica yoga wear and Republic of Couture, a boutique-y chain offering trendy labels like William Rast and Hugo Boss for women and men. Both are new to the Twin Cities - an admirable goal of the developer's. (Anthropologie and Love Culture are currently holding down the retail front along with local fave Creative Kidstuff.) The other priority: a mix of local boutiques, and to that end: Uptown retailer Ini Iyamba has signed on to do an Ivy women and men's store and Amy Briesemeister will resurrect her Long Lake boutique Pink Champagne. Also opening this spring: Uber Baby and Hot Mama. Raze, a men's hair salon from Regis, is scheduled to open March 1, followed by Toby Keith's bar and grill the third week of March with more food concepts to come including Mexican, pizza, crepes, a wine bar and - fingers crossed - a local coffee/dessert joint that would be open late. As the action picks up this spring, don't be surprised if a few national chains flee their current Minneapolis or west metro (watch out, Ridgedale) homes to join West End.
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