After several years of planning, the developer of a luxury condo tower across the Mississippi River from downtown Minneapolis has started taking reservations, and has acquired a historic building next door to use as its sales center. 

Twin Cities-based Alatus Development says that Alia, a glass and steel 40-story tower with 212 condos, is expected to start construction next summer and will take two years to build. Sales began Wednesday night at a launch party a block from the construction site at 222 Central Avenue on the edge of the Marcy Holmes neighborhood near the banks of the Mississippi River.

Planners said that more than 300 people, including would-be buyers, neighbors and people who have been involved in the project so far RSVP’d for the event, which was the first opportunity buyers had to reserve a unit. Alatus founder, Bob Lux, also said the developer plans to buy an adjacent property that includes the former Pillsbury Library, a historic 1904 Beaux Arts-style building at 100 University Avenue SE that had been most recently been used by Dean Phillips to house the former headquarters for Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto, which was sold to Unilever in 2014.

The launch party also included several new details about the tower, including pricing information. Units will range from just under $500,000 to more than $6 million each for a pair of two-story penthouse units that could include outdoor spaces with swimming pools. The building, which will include a first-floor restaurant, was designed by ESG Architects. It includes a sleek tower that will sit atop a five-story podium that will house parking, condos and a 35,000 square-foot, fifth-floor amenity level will have four separate swimming pools, including a lap pool and a year-round “spa pool.”

Among the bells and whistles: board rooms, catering and demonstration kitchens and five elevators, including a service elevator for pets, and a sensor system that will automatically call for an elevator car to the appropriate parking level when a resident pulls into the garage. Final floor plans are still being worked out; prospective buyers were asked to pay half the deposit, from $10,000 to $100,000. By mid-February buyers will be asked to review finishes and final floor plans. By mid-April those reservations will go to contract; construction is slated to begin May 6.

The tower will be in good company. Minneapolis-based Ryan is in the home stretch on its plans for the Eleven, an even taller condo tower to be built a few blocks away on the downtown side of the river. The Eleven was designed by New York-based Robert A.M. Stern Architects and will have only about 100 units, which will likely be larger and more expensive. Sales of those haven’t yet begun. In addition, Los Angeles-based AECOM is gearing up to build more than 100 condos in a wellness-themed building on a narrow site near the Guthrie Theater in the Mill District.

Though Alia received the support of the Marcy Holmes Neighborhood Association, the project was delayed for about two years by a series of legal challenges from a group of neighbors including a claim against the city that it was grossly violating its own rules by allowing a high-rise building in a historic district.

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