If Bob Lux has his way, the high-rise tower he plans to build across the Mississippi River from downtown Minneapolis will be taller and more slender than originally planned.
"The concept is to build a more elegant tower," said Lux, principal of Minneapolis-based Alatus Partners.
Lux went public a few weeks ago with a plan to build a 25- to 30-story high-rise at the corner of Central Avenue and 2nd Street SE. that would require moving the Washburn-McReavy Funeral Home, or incorporating it into the project.
Lux now wants to increase the height of the tower to 40 stories with about 325 "residential units" and demolish the funeral home and an adjacent racquetball club. Those plans are part of a staff report that will be presented to the Minneapolis City Planning Commission's committee of the whole, which meets Thursday.
Lux, who has a purchase agreement in hand to buy the site, said he still hasn't decided whether he'll build for-sale condominiums or rental apartments, but he said the market would support either, given the quality of the site.
After two meetings with neighborhood groups, Lux said there's clear support for high-density development in the neighborhood, so he's now planning to build a tower that would sit atop a three- or four-story base that would house a lobby, building amenities and retail spaces that would be open to the street. An existing adjacent parking ramp would be ringed by new multilevel townhouses. Lux is partnering with Minneapolis-based ESG Architects and Humphreys Partners of Dallas on the design.
The plan comes in the midst of an unprecedented building boom in downtown Minneapolis. As of early June, more than 2,000 rental apartments were under construction, 451 have been approved and another 1,322 have been proposed, according to Maxfield Research.
"I'm all for more residential downtown, especially in that area," said Joe Grunnet, broker with the Downtown Resource Group, which works with renters and buyers.
"I love that site," said Grunnet. "But my gut is that he's going to do apartments."
While Grunnet and others agree there's a dearth of "nice luxury rental opportunities" in that neighborhood, there's also enough demand to build for-sale condominiums.
Mary Bujold, president of Maxfield Research, agrees, but said a 40-story tower is "overkill."
In downtown Minneapolis, there's less than a three-month supply of condos on the market and only one condominium building has been built since the housing crash, according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors. The Stonebridge Lofts condos opened this spring in the Mill District near the Mississippi River's west side, and all but 15 of the 164 units have been sold.
Lux has been involved with several projects, including a high-rise luxury condominium tower called the Carlyle, which he built shortly before the housing crash. And he's developing Latitude 45, an upscale apartment building on the downtown side of the river at the corner of Washington and 3rd Avenues.
"I've been looking at the site [of his proposed 40-story tower] for seven years since doing the Carlyle," Lux said. "And I think it's the best site that's out there."