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Mpls. impound lot overhaul would reuse some land for development

Photo by Richard Sennott

City planners have proposed to redesign the Minneapolis impound lot to improve the experience for visitors and reuse some of the land for potential redevelopment.

The impound lot takes up about 30 acres northwest of the Interstate 394 and Interstate 94 interchange outside of downtown.

The redesign, which is expected to be discussed at Thursday’s committee of the whole city planning commission meeting, would reduce the size of the storage lot to reallocate land west of Van White Memorial Boulevard to be available for private development though city reports don’t list details about a possible redevelopment project.

The vehicle entry to the site would need to be relocated from Colfax Avenue N. to Van White Memorial Boulevard and the main building would also be reconstructed on the western side of the property. In the new design, customer parking would be located on the west side of the new building close to Van White Memorial Boulevard so customers would cross the secure line within the building and then be taken to their impounded vehicles.

“These changes will allow better access to Metro Transit options including bus routes and the future Southwest LRT, and will redirect tow trucks away from the central business district,” according to a city staff report. “The applicant’s intent is to improve customer and staff flow and experience, to separate tow truck traffic from customers quickly, and to keep pedestrians out of the flow of vehicular traffic.”

The city has wanted to upgrade the old impound lot building for years and has been gathering residents’ feedback on how to improve the site, which takes in more than 32,000 vehicles a year. With the number of vehicles towed and taken to the lot on the decline, the city has discussed reducing the lot’s footprint. Neighborhood advocates have pushed for the site to be utilized for potential development.

The overhaul of the impound lot was originally estimated to cost about $7 million.

Map of the impound lot

Courtesy City of Minneapolis

Rendering of what the impound lot building could look like

Courtesy Clever Architecture

New apartments set for Minneapolis, next to Arezzo Ristorante

The owner of Arezzo Ristorante plans to replace three houses with a 16-unit apartment building across the alley from his restaurant near the popular 50th and France shopping area.

Dean Dovolis of DJR Architecture said that Adam Smith wants to build the project, to be called Ewing Place, on the southeast corner of 51st Street and Ewing Avenue South, which is in MInneapolis on the edge of Edina and adjacent to a surface parking lot.

The proposed three-story building will include 17 parking spaces on the first floor of the brick and stucco building, which will have walkout units on the first floor and balconies on the upper-floor units. Dovolis said the firm presented its plans to neighbors at a community meeting in early January and has already submitted a land-use application to the city and hopes to be on the agenda for the city’s planning commission meeting on March 19. If there are no major objections, construction is expected to start this summer, with occupancy happening a year later.

Smith started the restaurant more than 15 years ago in an area that’s been a hotbed for residential and commercial development. “He’s had this vision for a long time to put a nice luxury apartment building behind his restaurant and now he’s finally following through with it,” Dovolis said.

Several luxury rental buildings are in the works, or have recently been built, in the area, which is within walking distance to dozens of upscale shops and restaurants, but Dovolis said that this is the first new development on the east side of France in many years.

Just a few blocks away, Minneapolis-based Saturday Properties and Edina-based Buhl Investors are developing Nolan Mains, a 100-unit apartment and retail project in the parking lot of the former Nolan’s Golf Terrace Cafe at 49 ½ Street between France Avenue and Halifax Avenues.