The following article by Jim Buchta was published in the March 27, 2014 edition of the StarTribune.
PARK WATCH NOTE: This article is being posted on Park Watch because the proposed Greystar project is across the street from Lake Calhoun and, therefore, is subject to the Shoreland Height Ordinance, which at this site allows building height up to 60 feet.
Structures located on lake shore property elsewhere are limited to two and one-half stories or 35 feet. Because the Greystar developer wants to go even higher, it becomes a park related issue. CIDNA is having meetings on the issue April 7 and 9 at 6:00 at the Jones-Harrison Residence, 3700 Cedar Lake Avenue. Arlene Fried.
DEVELOPERS PITCH TWO APARTMENT BUILDINGS ALONG LAKE CALHOUN
A pair of developers are poised to present plans for two luxury apartment buildings near the coveted north shore of Lake Calhoun, where neighbors have been wary of previous proposals deemed too big and out of scale for the neighborhood.
North Carolina-based Greystar wants to build an eight-story, 90-unit building next to the Calhoun Beach Club. Just a few blocks away, Trammell Crow of Texas is planning a six-story building with 155 apartments next to Tryg’s restaurant.
These are not the first proposals for these sites, which are among the last major development opportunities on a popular spot along W. Lake Street in the neighborhood, which will offer residents views of Lake Calhoun and the downtown Minneapolis skyline.
The Cedar-Isles-Dean Neighborhood Association (CIDNA) is concerned about how much traffic might be drawn to a neighborhood that’s already stretched to the limits with cars and people, especially in the summer when trails around the lake draw thousands of sun-starved visitors.
There also have been concerns about how any buildings might dwarf–and shade–the nearby Loop Condos and Midtown Greenway, a popular recreational trail built along a former railroad corridor that’s used primarily by bicyclists.
“This is one of the busiest intersections in the city and state,” said Bob Corrick, chairman of the neighborhood association’s Land Use and Development Committee. “We’re concerned about pedestrian safety and the friendliness of our paths and walkways.”
The Greystar project is at the intersection of W. Lake Street and Thomas Avenue S., east of the Calhoun Beach Club Apartments, and would be eight stories tall on the Lake Street side, but would step down to three stories on the Thomas and Greenway sides. The building would shade only part of the Midtown Greenway trail at noon on winter solstice, and would be lower than the Calhoun Beach Club Apartments. The units will be larger than most being built today, including several with three bedrooms, and monthly rents would be about $4,500.
The Trammell Crow project, which was originally proposed in early January, has been significantly revised to address neighborhood concerns, especially among residents of the nearby Loop Condos. The developer reduced the height of the building from 11 stories to six stories and the number of units from 177 to 155, and will create a side yard, or “pocket park,” adjacent to the Loop.
The proposals come at a time when several Twin Cities neighborhoods are wrestling with similar concerns about the impact that new development is having on the look and livability of those communities. In the Dinkytown neighborhood, a proposal to build a hotel was recently denied after concerns were raised about the scale of the project in an early 1900s neighborhood dominated by funky two-story storefronts. And in Linden Hills in south Minneapolis, a moratorium on new residential construction was recently implemented to give the community time to wrestle with the impact that teardowns are having on the area.
David Reid, senior managing director for Greystar, said his company used a 2005 proposal from another developer that received neighborhood support as a guide.
“I’m hopeful that we’ve worked through a lot of their concerns,” Reid said. “We’ve tried to offer a lower-density project that respects the Greenway.
Corrick, of the Land Use and Development Committee, said the neighborhood association supports additional development, but with limits. Both developers have heeded the group’s advice, and no final recommendations will be made until a meeting in early April.
“They’re both on a reasonable track to make something work,” he said. “We’ve tried to work with them to try to respect the character of the neighborhood and height concerns while at the same time accomplishing the kind of projects with the kind of density they were hoping for.”
The latest proposals will be considered at 6 p.m. on April 7 at the Jones Harrison Residence, and if approved will move through the city approval process.
Reid said that if all goes well, his company would like to begin construction sometime during the first half of 2015. Trammell Crow didn’t respond to a request for an interview.
Abe Appert, a first vice president for CB Richard Ellis, a commercial real estate company, said that even though there are thousands of apartments under construction in the city, he’s optimistic that demand will be strong for new units in the Lake Calhoun area.
“In general, both projects are in A-plus locations,” he said.