Opus to build another luxury complex in downtown Minneapolis

  • Article by: JANET MOORE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 17, 2012 - 8:47 PM

North Loop project is to be finished by spring 2014.

The luxury apartment boom continues to reshape Minneapolis' downtown landscape with news Monday that a 101-unit project in the North Loop is breaking ground come spring.

Opus Development Corp. said it will serve as the developer and builder on the project, which is called Vélo -- the French word for bicycle and a nod to the city's bike-friendly culture. Opus is partnering with Sentinel Management Co., a Twin Cities-based real estate investment company that will own the project.

Minnetonka-based Opus did not disclose how much it was investing in the project, which is the second luxury apartment complex it has in the works on the northern side of downtown.

Vélo will be located at 103 N. 2nd St. and will also feature 12,000 square feet of street-level retail space. Now home to Merit Printing and surface parking, the site is near the proposed Whole Foods grocery store, which is anchoring another 286-unit luxury apartment complex being developed by Minneapolis-based Ryan Cos. U.S. Inc.

Not too far away at 5th Street and Nicollet Mall, Opus recently broke ground on a $100 million, 26-story luxury apartment tower called Nic on Fifth that's slated to open in the summer of 2014. And a Michigan-based developer, Village Green, is renovating the historic Soo Line Building on 5th Street and Marquette Avenue into high-end apartments. As of early December, more than $1 billion of construction projects were approved in Minneapolis -- activity that was fueled largely by the apartment boom.

When asked if the luxury apartment surge had reached its saturation point, David Frank, the president of the North Loop Neighborhood Association, said financiers would not back a project if they didn't feel there was a need.

"There's no way lenders and investors would get on board if there wasn't a demand; they've done their due diligence," Frank noted.

The neighborhood association, which backed Opus' proposal for Vélo, has seen a noticeable increase in the market for apartments, Frank said. "There's been a tremendous growth in residents and residential construction," he said.

Opus said the Vélo development will offer proximity to the Minneapolis bike path system for bike commuters. It will feature an outdoor plaza, yoga studio, club lounge, outdoor fire pits and grill kitchen, and fitness centers. Completion is expected in spring of 2014.

"Vélo will be the ultimate hub for residents seeking a balanced lifestyle in the heart of America's premier bike city," said Tom Lund, Opus' vice president of real estate development, in a statement.

Sentinel Management and its sister company, Aurora Investments LLC, are owned by Luigi Bernardi, and have operated apartment complexes, shopping centers and medical office buildings in the Twin Cities for the past 50 years.

Janet Moore • 612-673-7752

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