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.

Posts about Architecture

North Loop condo building one step closer to groundbreaking

Posted by: Jim Buchta Updated: December 16, 2014 - 1:57 PM

Renderings of the proposed 602 Residences by Tushie Montgomery Architects

Renderings of the proposed 602 Residences by Tushie Montgomery Architects

Renderings of the proposed 602 Residences by Tushie Montgomery Architects

Here's the latest rendition of the 602 Residences condo building.

Here's the latest rendition of the 602 Residences condo building.

What's likely to be just the second new condo building in downtown Minneapolis is one step closer to becoming a reality. The Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission recently gave the go-ahead to demo two buildings to make way for a new 8-story brick, stone, metal and glass condominium building that's being called 602 Residences. Both buildings were just a few decades old and are within the Minneapolis Warehouse Historic District and the St. Anthony Falls Historic District, but neither is considered a contributing structure. Those buildings, a one- and two-story building, are at 602 North 1st Street and 606 North 1st Street.

Gunsbury, of Solhem LLC, is working with T.E. Miller Development on the project, and said that he hopes to break ground in May or June. The duo has already developed several apartment buildings in the city, including Soltva and Solhavn in the North Loop. The project has received support from neighborhood groups, and would be just the second condominium building in downtown Minneapolis to break ground since the 2008 housing crash. Prices haven't been determined, but every unit will be on a corner and have outdoor balconies and terraces, private elevators.

These are the buildings that are slated for demolition.

These are the buildings that are slated for demolition.


Mortenson proposal for Nicollet block includes 31-story apartment tower

Posted by: Kristen Leigh Painter Updated: December 16, 2014 - 10:36 AM

Rendering of Mortenson Development's 31-story tower being proposed on the Nicollet Hotel Block

Mortenson released more details Tuesday on its redevelopment proposal for the Nicollet Hotel Block -- a city-owned parcel in Minneapolis' Gateway District that received four lofty bids last week. 

The Golden Valley-based company's plan includes:

  • A 31-story residential tower with 273 apartment units
  • Seven-story hotel with 171 guestrooms
  • Five-story office structure with 60,000 square feet of office and ground floor retail space
  • 15,000 square-foot gateway plaza; including a water feature, art space, and capable of accommodating a winter ice skating rink
  • Supported by underground and structured parking

The Star Tribune reported Friday that four local developers had submitted proposals for the block, currently owned by the City of Minneapolis and functioning as a surface parking lot. All of the proposals include streetcar-ready design and am emphasis on public art and park space. The city envisions this block serving as the keystone between a soon-to-be remodeled Nicollet Mall and the Mississippi River. 

Minneapolis-based Doran Development is proposing a 30-story residential building and a six-story Graves Hotel. Bloomington-based United Properties wants to build a 36-story building with a Hilton hotel, 300 residential units, retail, restaurants and offices. And Minneapolis newcomer Duval Development is proposing an eyebrow-raising 80-story hotel, apartment and office tower.

Rendering of Mortenson Development's public plaza being proposed on the Nicollet Hotel Block

Rendering of Mortenson Development's public plaza being proposed on the Nicollet Hotel Block

“We embrace the City’s vision for an iconic design and sustainable urban space that connects the Gateway District and welcomes the community,” said Bob Solfelt, vice president and general manager of Mortenson Development, in a statement. “We have brought together an unparalleled project team that has a strong connection to Minneapolis and the downtown community. Our proposal is for a vibrant, financially-feasible project that will bridge neighborhoods and become a true landmark.”

Mortenson's team includes The Excelsior Group, Coen+Partners, ESG Architects and RSP Architects. 

Renderings courtesy of Mortenson.

Opus repurposes Shattuck-St.Mary's School building from infirmary to Inn

Posted by: Kristen Leigh Painter Updated: December 11, 2014 - 1:35 PM

(Photo by Brandon Stengel of Farm Kids Studios.)

Skyscraping towers and luxury apartments grab headlines, but it's often historic renovations and community projects that grab the heart strings of developers

Minneapolis-based Opus Group has helped Shattuck-St. Mary's School in Faribault restore an old building on its campus and expanding it into a functioning hospitality and event space.

“The Inn at Shattuck-St. Mary’s was an exciting challenge for Opus,” said Tim Callahan, senior project manager for Opus Design Build, in a statement. “It was an honor to participate in this project, recognizing the historical significance of the space." 

The building, now known as The Inn at Shattuck-St. Mary's, was built in 1871. The storied building has served as a dormitory for raucous teenage boys, an infirmary that weathered a scarlet fever outbreak and, most recently, the site for a Halloween haunted house event.

Renovation of the building included adding about 10,000 square feet of new space to the two-story complex, with meeting and catering services on the ground floor and 12 guest suites upstairs.

The goal, Callahan said, was "to enhance existing structures, enabling those spaces to meet modern-day needs.”

Transit-oriented development at Lake & Hiawatha in Minneapolis makes first public appearance

Posted by: Kristen Leigh Painter Updated: December 5, 2014 - 11:14 AM

L&H Station Development is moving through the city of Minneapolis approval process with its mixed-use project that could redefine the lightrail stop and intersection at Lake Street and Hiawatha Avenue. 

Aerial shot of the existing site as submitted by L&H Station DevelopmentOverall Master Plan for Lake Street and Hiawatha Avenue, submitted by L&H Station Development

Hennepin County and its private-sector partner, L&H, provided a lengthy presentation Thursday, Dec. 4, to the Planning Commission Committee of the Whole, which responded favorably but raised several concerns that the development team can address before submitting its formal application in January. 

The county agreed in September to purchase the 6.5-acre parcel from the Minneapolis School District and build a new $54.5-million human service center on the site. The Star Tribune reported:

J. Michael Noonan, manager of the county’s real estate division, said he expects the county to recoup through land sales the $9 million cost of acquiring the parcels. The remainder will be used to build a $30 million service center and $16 million in mostly underground parking.

Because the county will be the landowner, it has enlisted L&H, a joint venture between Roseville-based Launch Properties and Minneapolis-based BKV Group, to provide the expertise lacking within the government entity.

L&H has been trying for four years to get the project off the ground. The plan is to do it in four phases over the next 10 years. The county is only seeking approval for the first phase -- which they hope to break ground on in April -- but the city is taking the long view by considering the master plan in its entirety now.

If the current plans proceed with minimal changes, phase one would include a 100,000-square-foot office building that would be occupied entirely by the county, 8,000 square feet of retail space, a 6-story, 125-unit apartment building and small transit plaza to connect the Blue Line lightrail stop with the ground-level retail.

The final product would include 565 residential units, the 100,000-square-foot county office, 840 off-street parking stalls -- and the kicker: a public plaza and marketplace to house the farmers market and other community events. 

While the development team has been meeting with the Corcoran Neighborhood Organization regularly, some urban designers hope to seem some changes in the plans. In a letter to Commissioner Peter McLaughlin in November, a citizen group cited concerns. Specifically, they noted that the west boundary of the development feeling too much like a "back door" entrance, that the market plaza may be isolated in the current configuration of thoroughfares, and also raised issue with the green-roofed parking garage not being at street level for the public to enjoy.

"When you look at the principles of what we are talking about, I think the overall site plan would require some pretty dramatic changes still," said Sam Newberg, a local urban design blogger and resident of Standish, the neighborhood just to the south. "We find that the surburban model that the county is coming in with hasn't been adjusted enough for the urban fabric."

Senior City Planner Becca Farrar voiced some hesitations in her memo to the Committee that was published before Tuesday's presentation, but she and other members agreed several of these had been addressed with the newly tweaked plans. 

The Committee asked the architects and Noonan, who is the county representative, to build in assurances that the public can clearly tell they have access to the walkways being proposed through the private property portions, to ensure that the public plaza has a visual connection with Lake Street foot traffic and to work closely with the city in selecting simpler building materials.

First "Energy Fit" certified home hits the MLS

Posted by: Jim Buchta Updated: December 3, 2014 - 4:17 PM

Shopping for an energy efficient house? The NorthstarMLS (Multiple Listing Service), the local organization that runs the listing service for buyers and sellers, has started including a "green certification" check box on its online listings 2013, and there's now a new standard for those houses.

The Center for Energy and Environment (CEE), a local non-profit, and Coldwell Banker Burnet have listed the first  "Energy Fit" house in the Twin Cities. That house (2626 Zenith Ave. N in Robbinsdale) was bought by CEE and completely retrofitted with a host of improvements aimed at reducing energy costs and making it more comfortable for occupants. Performance testing to make sure the changes were beneficial are part of the drill. The 1,774 square-foot house is on the market for $224,900.

Bruce Erickson, the Coldwell Banker Burnet agent who has the listing, said that homebuyers are increasingly concerned about how much they'll be spending on their utility bills, and he expects the designation to make these houses more marketable. 

“Many homebuyers consider the cost of heating and cooling when buying a new house and this can impact the sale price of the home as well as the time spent on the market," said Erickson. "Having Energy Fit Homes on the MLS can not only help buyers in making their final purchasing decisions, it can also allow sellers to get recognition for improvements made to the home,” he said.

The Energy Fit Homes concept was launched by CEE in February, and more than 60 houses have been certified. The goal is to double that number by the end of the year. For more information on how to get your home certified, visit www.mnenergyfit.org or call 612.335.3483.

Update: Apartments WILL replace polkas at Nye's Polonaise Room

Posted by: Jim Buchta Updated: December 2, 2014 - 7:43 PM
Star Tribune photo by Tom Wallace

Star Tribune photo by Tom Wallace

Update: Longtime developer, Schafer Richardson, is joining forces with the owners of the restaurant to build apartments. Here's a link to the latest details.

As hipsters and pensioners alike mourn the 2015 closing of Nye's Polonaise Room in Nordeast Minneapolis, speculation is blazing about the fate of the iconic buildings, which are perched along East Hennepin just a block from the Mississippi River. 

The owners of the restaurant, which is actually four patched-together buildings of various ages, aren't talking specifically about their plans for the site, but various sources say there have been very, very preliminary discussions with at least one well-known and unnamed Minneapolis developer.

One thing is clear: Unless a buyer plans to continue running it as a restaurant, it's very likely the buildings will be bought by a developer and replaced with a modern high-rise. Though the buildings are situated in the heart of the St. Anthony Falls Historic District, which includes the historic milling districts on the east and west banks of the river, the buildings themselves don't have the kind of historic status that would automatically prevent them from being scraped. Here's a link to the St. Anthony Falls Historic District design guidelines, which governs development in the area. In fact, a recent update to the Nicollet Island East Bank Neighborhood Association small area plan calls for more high-density, pedestrian friendly development, especially along East Hennepin, which is slowly becoming the bustling commercial district it once was.

P. Victor Grambsch, President of the Nicollet Island-East Bank Neighborhood Association, said the group would not oppose demolition of the buildings and is in full support of a high-rise tower.

" We think it's unfortunate that Nye's is going, but no one is going  to the barricades to preserve it," he said "This will be a relatively expensive site and they’ll [the buyers] will want to build something substantial and we're all in favor of that."

Doesn't matter whether it's rental apartments, condos or offices, he said, the group is more concerned that the mixed-use project that will bring more shops, restaurants and housing to the neighborhood. And the base of the building is more important than the shape of the tower because the No. 1 design priority is making the neighborhood pedestrian friendly. Grambsch said that a slender tower that sits atop a more slender two- or three-story podium is a likely scenario. There’s no height restriction in the area, which already has at least two residential towers with nearly 30 floors.

The site isn't without its challenges. Nye's shares the block with the Our Lady of Lourdes Church - a historic limestone church with a distinct steeple that's long been a neighborhood icon. Preserving and enhancing views of the church will be one of the design goals.

"We don’t see a fundamental conflict between a substantial, tall building and Lourdes Church," Grambsch said. "But they’re [the architects] are going to have get out their design chops because this will pose some interesting design challenges...we would like to have something that’s a visibly better piece of archtitecture than what’s there now."

If the buildings are demolished, it's likely the HPC will require the developer to memorialize the building in some way, with either a plaque or an architectural element that provides a symbolic reminder of the history of the building.

The Northeast side of the river is already in the midst of considerable development. Lennar Multifamily has an option to buy a once-contiminated site where it plans to build a mixed-use development that would eventually have two high-rise towers. And Alatus has an option to redevelop the Wasburn-McReavy Funeral Chapel site, where it has proposed building a 40-story apartment or condominium tower. Both projects have received support of neighborhood groups.



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