Condo War Continues In Mpls' Linden Hills

Critics have filed an appeal over a revised, 20-unit plan for condos in the South Minneapolis neighborhood.

Condo War Continues In Mpls' Linden Hills

The battle over a proposed condo development continues to roil the Linden Hills neighborhood of south Minneapolis.

In 2012, the Minneapolis City Council nixed developer Mark Dwyer’s five-story 40-unit plan for condos in the Linden Hills area of south Minneapolis. Dwyer was subsequently approved for a scaled-down three-story, 18-unit project—but in mid-July, the Minneapolis City Planning Commission approved his revised proposal for Linden Crossing, a four-story condominium project with 20 upscale units.

Now, neighbors who battled Dwyer’s original five-story plan are rankled anew about his plan to add another story to the project. A group called Linden Hills Residents for Responsible Development has filed an appeal against the Planning Commission’s July vote. The Zoning & Planning Committee of the Minneapolis City Council will consider the issue at a public hearing Thursday morning.

Throughout the ongoing debate over Dwyer’s plan, the height of the proposed building has been a flash point for critics. The new approval from the Planning Commission would allow Dwyer to increase the project from three stories and 42 feet up to four stories and 56 feet. The rejected five-story version of the plan called for a building height of 59 feet.

Dwyer said that as the project was redesigned, there are now only 16 units on the first three floors. He told Twin Cities Business that his plan is to add four additional units in the center of the roof, set back from the edge of the building.

“From most vantage points it’s not even visible from the street,” Dwyer said of the fourth floor, noting that the units would only cover about half of the roof.

Dwyer acknowledged that he’s looking to add units to offset cost increases.

“The costs have gone up since this started, so the extra revenue will serve to pay for these units as well as the increase in costs,” said Dwyer, who declined to disclose the current project budget.

Linden Crossing also calls for 6,155 square feet of ground floor commercial space.

The project site is at the corner of 43rd Street West and Upton Avenue South on two parcels—4250 and 4264 Upton Avenue South—in the heart of the neighborhood’s commercial district. Critics of Dwyer’s project have argued that his plans are out of scale with the neighborhood. A Famous Dave’s restaurant on the site closed earlier this year.

Critics of the plan are frustrated to be revisiting the debate over building height, which had seemingly been settled with the approval of the three-story plan in late 2012.

“I think it’s a dangerous, precedent-setting concern for the city,” said Kristin Tombers, who owns Clancey’s Meats & Fish in Linden Hills. “It really is an issue of protecting a C1 district.”

The city’s C1 zoning classification limits building heights to 35 feet, but Dwyer’s project previously qualified for a mixed-use density bonus to allow for a height of 42 feet.

Tombers is planning to attend Thursday's Zoning & Planning Committee hearing.

The issue ultimately must be voted on by the full Minneapolis City Council and it’s tough to forecast how the council will weigh the issue. The Planning Commission approved Dwyer’s original 40-unit plan in February 2012, but the Minneapolis City Council then scuttled the project when it upheld the appeal filed against the project by the same neighborhood group.

Prices for the luxury condos range from $650,000 to $1.4 million. Dwyer said that he currently has reservations for nine of the units. At this point, he said that he’s hoping to break ground on the project in October or November, with completion set for the fourth quarter of 2015.

Condo projects have been rare in recent years amid the local apartment building boom, but as the housing market has improved some developers have tapped a demand for new for-sale units. Developer Jim Stanton of Coon Rapids-based Shamrock Development has sold the bulk of the units in the recently completed Stonebridge Lofts, a 164-unit project in downtown Minneapolis. Last week, Twin Cities Business reported that two developers are considering condos for two new multifamily projects in downtown Minneapolis.

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