A developer wants to build two 22-story apartment towers near Lake Calhoun on the western edge of Minneapolis, the largest residential project proposed in the city in years.
Bader Development of St. Louis Park, in documents made public by Minneapolis city planners on Friday, envisions a makeover of a 4.5-acre property that is the site of the 55-year-old, 21-story Calhoun Tower apartments.
Bader proposes updating that tower, adding the other two and connecting all three with a parking ramp. It also proposes building two six-story apartment buildings on the property’s perimeter.
The two new towers and two six-story buildings, to be built in phases, would add 739 units and fill the site along Excelsior Boulevard and List Place west of the lake. Bader didn’t disclose a timeline or cost estimate.
When finished and including the existing building, there would be a total of 852 units.
The project would bring hundreds of new residents to a neighborhood that is already dense with rentals. The complex is next to the expected West Lake Street stop along the proposed light-rail line between downtown and the southwest suburbs.
“Given the Southwest light rail and the views of Lake Calhoun and surrounding area, I think that this would be a good site for the additional tower buildings,” said Mary Bujold, president of Maxfield Research.
She said the site was always intended to have more than one tower on it.
Bader is working with the city, the Metropolitan Council and Hennepin County to buy about an acre of land north of Calhoun Tower behind the Whole Foods Market at the Calhoun Commons shopping center to help build out the development.
“Currently, the site feels like an island with little connectivity to surrounding transit, open space, or nearby parklands despite its proximity to each,” Bader said in proposal documents. “The redevelopment of this site will enhance access for current and new residents and will also improve the landscape and streetscape from an overgrown, vacant space into a beautiful pedestrian-friendly environment.”
The site would have a series of outdoor spaces including a pocket park, courtyard and large amenity decks with green space. The future West Lake Street Station on the light-rail line would be located along the northwest edge of the property. ESG Architects of Minneapolis designed the project.
The Calhoun Towers plans are slated to be discussed at a City Planning Commission meeting next Thursday.
There are several large development sites in the Twin Cities that could accommodate several hundred apartments in multiple phases, but so far Calhoun Towers is the largest slated for possible construction.
The Ford Plant site near the Mississippi River in St. Paul has been eyed for upward of 4,000 housing units, including rentals, but no developer has yet been selected. And the 427-acre Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant in Arden Hills is slated to have 1,450 housing units, including hundreds of apartments.
The next biggest firm proposal was the redevelopment of a 17-acre Lowry Grove mobile-home park in St. Anthony. The developer originally proposed 712 units of townhouses and rental apartments. But after neighborhood and community opposition, it scaled back the plan by 200 units or so.
The Calhoun Towers project is more than twice the size of some recent large-scale residential developments in Minneapolis, including a proposed 326 unit apartment complex on the Sons of Norway site on the east side of Lake Calhoun and a 374-unit condominium building now rising in the Mill District downtown.
The project comes at a time of rising rents and tight vacancy rates in the Twin Cities, making it one of the most desirable in the nation for developers and investors.
As of last September, the vacancy rate for apartments across the Twin Cities metro was 2.5 percent, unchanged from the year before, according to a quarterly survey by Marquette Advisors. The average rent for all types of apartments in the region is $1,147, up 5 percent last year.
Bader also will be dealing with a change in the identity of the lake from which Calhoun Tower and other nearby properties took their name. City park officials last year agreed to change the name of Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska, but that still needs to be accepted by state and federal agencies to become official.