Superior Plating site in play again after developer abandons plans

  • Article by: JANET MOORE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 11, 2014 - 8:38 PM

Neighborhood group wanted a denser housing development.

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Demolition of the Superior Plating building at 315 1st Av. NE. in Minneapolis in April.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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A Florida developer has abandoned plans to build some 500 residential units at the Superior Plating Co. site in northeast Minneapolis, according to the head of the local neighborhood association.

P. Victor Grambsch, president of the Nicollet Island/East Bank Neighborhood Association, confirmed Friday that the impending sale of the 5.4-acre property has been “terminated.”

Florida-based DLC Residential had signed a letter of intent to buy the site from First & University LLC, an entity associated with City Center Realty Partners. Based in San Francisco, City Center also has an office in Minneapolis.

Officials from First & University did not respond to a phone call seeking comment Friday.

Grambsch said the property owner is now seeking a new developer for the site, which has undergone an extensive environmental cleanup in recent years. Superior Plating closed down its metal plating operations in late 2011.

“Now that the old building has been removed and the pollution largely remediated, the site should draw significantly more interest than it did in its former state,” Grambsch said.

The news comes after the neighborhood association gave DLC Residential’s proposal for 500 residential units a cool reception last month. The group urged the developer to increase the density of the project to between 600 and 700 units.

“They wanted to build a Dinkytown-style project; it wasn’t very imaginative,” Grambsch said. “We should have higher aspirations” for the site.

Rich Kauffman, president of construction for the Midwest region of DLC Residential, declined to comment Friday on the project. “We’ll have more information in a few days,” he said.

Several other developers were mentioned as possible replacements, but no one has stepped forward yet.

Scott Tankenoff, managing director of Hillcrest Development, said his firm is too busy with other projects to move on the Superior Plating site. Hillcrest is redeveloping the former Minneapolis School District headquarters and the Pentagon Park office complex in Edina.

Tankenoff, who has been an active developer in northeast Minneapolis, said the Superior Plating property “is a great site that deserves the right density, the right plan — someone needs to roll up their sleeves and do it right.”

The site is located about a block from Surdyk’s and Northeast’s commercial strip, just across the Mississippi River from downtown.

Robert Lux, principal of Minneapolis-based Alatus LLC, agreed the site is attractive, but beyond that, declined to comment on whether his firm is interested in redeveloping it.

Alatus has submitted preliminary plans to the city for a 250- to 300-unit residential tower on a site now occupied by the Washburn-McReavy Funeral Chapel and the St. Anthony Athletic Club in northeast Minneapolis, not far from the Superior Plating site. The tower could stretch 25 to 35 stories, city documents state.

If all goes as expected, the sale of the properties could be completed by late in the fourth quarter.

Jacob Frey, the City Council member whose ward includes the Superior Plating site, said in an e-mail that the DLC Residential development shows “why we cannot settle for satisfactory. … The design did not fully utilize the space, did not produce a 100-year building, and did not fully fit with the neighborhood plan. We can do better! I have spoken with several developers about the parcel, and I am confident that the end result will be a significantly better project.”

The site was originally used as a streetcar barn and repair facility in the 1890s.

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