Developers are moving forward with a plan to bring shops and hundreds of residents to one of the last undeveloped blocks on Hennepin Avenue S. in downtown Minneapolis.

San Francisco-based Shorenstein has hired Ryan Cos. to build a six-story apartment building and a row of upscale townhouses on either side of an existing parking garage two blocks from the Mississippi River.

“This is a really important site, and I’m pleased that they’re going to put housing there,” said David Wilson, chairman of the 2025 Plan Greening and Public Realm Committee, which is focusing on a creating a parklike corridor that will connect the riverfront to the central business district.

“Getting more people living downtown is important for both business development and for the broader evolution of downtown,” Wilson said.

The project, now called 100 Hennepin, is on the eastern edge of the North Loop neighborhood between the new 222 Hennepin Apartments/Whole Foods building and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

The block is in what was once the bustling Gateway District, named for its proximity to the Minneapolis railroad depots. Today, Wilson and the committee envision a new Gateway area and are enlisting several property owners and public entities to build it.

The site was a challenge to develop because a concrete parking garage that straddles the block and a small brick building on one corner.

That’s why ESG Architects designed two distinct structures. On the Hennepin Avenue side of the block there will be a six-story building with 159 market-rate rental apartments in an E-shaped building, and on the opposite side of the parking garage there will be a row of 13 detached four-story townhouses that will have tuck-under garages facing 1st Avenue N.

“I like that they’re wrapping that parking deck with a structure that will engage the street in a much better way than the parking deck,” said Wilson, who is senior managing director for Accenture. “What Shorenstein and Ryan does is of the level and design quality the site deserves.”

A brick building at the corner of 2nd Street and 1st Avenue N., which is now home to the Environmental Law Group, is not included in the project, but helped inspire the scale and siting of the next-door townhouses.

“Our intention is to create the new townhouses/rowhomes to be of the same general scale as that building,” said Carl Runck, Ryan’s director of development, noting that at some point the brick building could be repurposed as a cafe or coffee shop similar in character to a nearby Dunn Bros. coffee shop that’s in a historic freight house building.

Residents on both sides of the block will have access to all of the resident amenities, including a sixth-floor resident roof terrace and “sky lounge” and a second-floor fitness center and spa.

The main entrance to the six-story building will be near the corner of Hennepin and 1st Street and will have a staircase to second-floor amenities. There will also be retail space at both street-level corners.

Runck said that many of the apartments will have views of the downtown skyline and river, and that it will have a “classic contemporary design with simple material palette, respectful of the scale and patterns prevalent in the North Loop.”

Shorenstein, which owns the 100 Hennepin property, also owns the nearby Washington Square office portfolio. And Ryan, which will act as 100 Hennepin’s developer-builder, was one of several partners on the nearby 222 Hennepin project, which includes the Whole Foods store and recently fetched a record price when it was sold to a national buyer.

Meg Spriggs, managing director of Shorenstein’s multifamily investments group, said that while the project is still in the early stages, the team has received positive feedback and is tweaking its plans based on recommendations from recent review by city planners and the Historic Preservation Commission.

Ryan hopes to start construction during the first quarter of 2016 and to be completed by spring 2017.

“We see tremendous opportunity with this site and believe there will be a continued need for quality rental residential housing in downtown Minneapolis,” Spriggs said. “Particularly around attractive mixed use urban locations such as the North Loop.”