Just Listed brings you the latest news and information from the Twin Cities-area commercial and residential real estate market and beyond from veteran reporters Jim Buchta and Kristen Leigh Painter.

Project updates: New developments on two northeast Minneapolis high-rise apartment buildings

Posted by: Jim Buchta under Architecture Updated: February 26, 2015 - 6:48 PM

New developments on the Superior Plating site, and a tower proposed for the Nye's block - both in northeast Minneapolis:

Peter Chmielewski, vice president of development for Lennar Multifamily Communities, said the company made a down payment on the purchase of the Superior Plating site, and on Feb. 7 submitted its formal notice to proceed with its mixed-use development on a once-polluted site in northeast Minneapolis

The company hasn’t yet closed on the land, but expects to do so in the coming months and plans to start construction before the end of the year. In the meantime, “We are proceeding on this project at full speed as if we already own the land,” said Chmielewski. Lennar is making a big splash in the Twin Cities. In addition to the Minneapolis project, the company is developing luxury apartments in Edina and Bloomington. The two-block site at the corner of 1st and University avenues is being sold by an entity called First and University LLC, which recently completed a lengthy remediation project.

The site was the longtime home of Superior Plating, which vacated the premises several years ago. After proposals by several other developers, Lennar and the project designer, ESG Architects, got an enthusiastic endorsement for their plans from the Nicollet Island East Bank Neighborhood Association in January. The first phase of the project will include 253 luxury rental units, most of them in an 18-story tower, and 22,184 square feet of commercial space.

Also this week, the Nicollet Island East Bank Neighborhood Association board voted 13 in favor, 3 opposed and 3 not voting on a resolution to accept the recommendations of a task force that recently reviewed a proposed high-rise apartment tower on the site of the Nye's Polonaise Room. The project, which is a joint venture between the restaurant owners and Minneapolis-based Schafer Richardson, will include a 30-story apartment tower atop commercial space that will including two of the original Nye's buildings. An estimated 225 to 250 people attended the meeting, including many who are concerned that the height and scale of the project could have a negative impact on the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic church next door.

Project updates: New developments on two Twin Cities high-rise apartment buildings

Posted by: Jim Buchta under Architecture Updated: February 26, 2015 - 6:33 PM

New developments on the Superior Plating site, and a tower proposed for the Nye's block - both in northeast Minneapolis. Peter Chmielewski, vice president of development for Lennar Multifamily Communities, said the company made a down payment on the purchase of the Superior Plating site, and on Feb. 7 submitted its formal notice to proceed wit its mixed-use development on a once-polluted site in northeast Minneapolis The company hasn’t yet closed on the land, but expects to do so in the coming months and plans to start construction before the end of the year. In the meantime, “We are proceeding on this project at full speed as if we already own the land,” said Chmielewski. Lennar is making a big splash in the Twin Cities. In addition to the Minneapolis project, the company is developing luxury apartments in Edina and Bloomington. The two-block site at the corner of 1st and University avenues is being sold by an entity called First and University LLC, which recently completed a lengthy remediation project. The site was the longtime home of Superior Plating, which vacated the premises several years ago. After proposals by several other developers, Lennar and the project designer, ESG Architects, got an enthusiastic endorsement for their plans from the Nicollet Island East Bank Neighborhood Association in January. The first phase of the project will include 253 luxury rental units, most of them in an 18-story tower, and 22,184 square feet of commercial space. Also this week, the Nicollet Island East Bank Neighborhood Association board voted 13 in favor, 3 opposed and 3 not voting on a resolution to accept the recommendations of a task force that recently reviewed a proposed high-rise apartment tower on the site of the Nye's Polonaise Room. The project, which is a joint venture between the restaurant owners and Minneapolis-based Schafer Richardson, will include a 30-story apartment tower atop commercial space that will including two of the original Nye's buildings. An estimated 225 to 250 people attended the meeting, including many who are concerned that the height and scale of the project could have a negative impact on the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic church next door.

City of Minneapolis hosts first public forum on Downtown East Commons park design

Posted by: Kristen Leigh Painter under Architecture, Vikings Updated: February 24, 2015 - 11:43 AM

The City of Minneapolis will seek the public's help in designing the new Downtown East Commons at an open forum Tuesday evening.

The 4.2-acre park is meant to be a fixture of the Downtown East redevelopment project by Ryan Cos. The developer will do basic soil and seed prep before turning the two blocks over to the city and its San Francisco-based landscape architect, Hargreaves Associates. 

Artist rendering of Downtown East Commons

Bounded by Park Avenue, 4th and 5th Streets and a proposed building that abuts 5th Av. S., the public space will have to balance a variety of interests.

"Hargreaves and the city’s job is to come up with a design for the Commons that is for almost everybody in terms of all the uses. And at the same time it has to be a clear, legible and compelling design that people get attached to and that it attracts the funds we need to sustain it in the future,” said Peter Brown, a consultant to the city. 

Minneapolis residents, workers and visitors can offer their input at Mill City Museum Tuesday, Feb. 24 from 6-7:30 p.m. And for those who prefer a more private response, the Hargreaves team has set up an online survey to gather feedback.

The park is currently a blank slate. Hargreaves hopes to capture and reflect Minnesota culture in its design.

"We really think this is a great opportunity for placemaking," said Mary Margaret Jones, senior principal at Hargreaves. "And, yes, we will be zoned. We have Ryan’s residential building at one end and the stadium at the other end. We can already imagine a park that moves from passive to more active. We are diving in. We are getting more information. We are understanding more of the special event needs. We are understanding the public.”

Jones has ties to Minneapolis. Her husband lived in the city when they first started dating. 

"I would come to visit and we would ride bikes along the river and across the Stone Arch Bridge, so I know the river well," she said. 

The challenge though for her and her team will be to satiate an abundance of needs. 

The Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA), Metro Transit and Hennepin County are all stakeholders, in addition to the general public that wants leisure, recreational and artistic uses.

An agreement between the Vikings and the city gives the football franchise access rights to areas of the park on game days, as well as a number of other days. City officials are quick to point out that even on event days, the Commons will be open to the public while VIP tents, beer gardens or other ticketed space may be used exclusively by the Vikings or MFSA. Here's the agreement breakdown:

Western block: Up to 20 event days total

- 10 Vikings game days

- 10 Vikings other-event days

Eastern block: Up to 60 event days total, plus time that may be needed for setup and takedown

- 10 Vikings game days. Portions of the eastern block can be used the day before and after Vikings game days for the specific purpose of setting up and taking down tents.

- 10 Vikings other-event days

- 40 event days for the MSFA

To balance these diverse uses, “there will probably be some combination of soft and hard landscapes and probably some features, but we don’t know what those will be yet," Brown said. "It's going to be a blank sheet of paper. We want the public to tell us everything they think it's going to take to make it great. Hargreaves will then go away for 3-5 weeks and come back in early April with some big-idea sketches. Then we talk about those in public setting. Then, we narrow those down."

This is the first of three public meetings scheduled before the design is finalized in May.

The goal is to have the final park vision operational by the end of 2017, but an interim park will be completed in 2016 ahead of opening day at the new stadium. 

"Our goal is to make some improvements on Ryan's grass and seek in order to make a good interim park," Brown said. 

In order to realize this dream, Greening Downtown Minneapolis (GDM) -- a new nonprofit organization formed by the Minneapolis Downtown Council -- has to raise $18 million, which is Hargreaves' cost estimate.

Ryan Cos. has a vested interest in the park's success since its five-block residential, retail and office development will directly benefit from a vibrant park. The company kicked off the fundraising campaign by pledging $200,000, but GDM has a long ways to go.

"The land is owned by the city, but we have to raise all $18 million," Brown said. "We hope that there are some interested institutions and organizations that are going to see the benefit in supporting that work.”

 

Zillow home data shows a tale of two cities in January

Posted by: Kristen Leigh Painter Updated: February 20, 2015 - 4:43 PM

January presented a tale of two cities for the local housing market, and I'm not talking about Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The Twin Cities metro was one of only two major U.S. markets to see rentals rates drop in January compared to the same time last year, according to a new report from Zillow.

Nationally, rents were up 3.3 percent year-over-year in the first month of 2015 while the Twin Cities market experienced a -0.3 percent drop to $1,502. The only other city to see a decrease was Chicago. Our fellow Upper Midwest city in Illinois watch rental rates drop -0.5 percent year-over-year.

That's good news for renters, but perhaps discomforting for the multitude of apartment complexes under construction across the metro.

Meanwhile, Minneapolis-St. Paul's home values in January rose faster, at 5.9 percent, than the national average of 5.4 percent.

The median home is the Twin Cities has a value of $212,600 while the national median is $178,500. For comparison, Chicago's home values also grew, but at a much slower rate of 3.6 percent.

However, Mary Bujold, president of Maxfield Research in Minneapolis, cautions that Zillow's January Real Estate Market Report may not be a complete snapshot of the Twin Cities rental market.

"I'm certainly not worried about it," Bujold said."Yes, we are seeing minor modifications in some submarkets, but overall we are seeing an increase in rents."

In fact, Marquette Advisors' Metro Trends Report shows a 4.1 percent increase year-over-year for the fourth quarter of 2014, she said. 

Architecture Billings Index softens nationally in January

Posted by: Kristen Leigh Painter under Architecture Updated: February 19, 2015 - 10:24 AM

The Architecture Billings Index, a measurement of demand for design services, softened in January after a strong 2014. 

And while economists say the slowdown may be due to harsh winter weather, it is also concerning for the construction industry. The ABI indicates the level of new construction that can be expected in the next 9 to 12 months. 

"The easing in demand for design services is a bit of a surprise given the overall strength of the market over the past nine months," said Kermit Baker, chief economist for the American Institute of Architects, in a prepared statement.

The national ABI score for January was 49.9, down from December's 52.7. The index uses 50 to represent flat activity while anything about that is seen as an increase in demand for design servces.

Regionally, the Midwest fared a bit better with a score of 50.8. The South still had a strong month with 54.8 while the West and Northeast both dropped to 49.3 and 46.0, respectively. ABI's regional data is based on a three-month average ending in January.

"Likely some of this can be attributed to severe weather conditions in January," Baker continued. "We will have a better sense if there is a reason for more serious concern over the next couple of months."

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