The streets lining the Midtown Greenway are busier than ever, as more than 1,000 luxury apartments rise over what was a dreary stretch of Uptown only several years ago.
In view of Jenny Crump’s perch on the rooftop of the Lime Apartments is the biking trail and rows of new buildings alongside it. Cranes stretch in the distance. Farther down are the Flux apartments and Bar Louie, which opened in 2012 but already feel more like established landmarks.
“It’s a much bigger, much more active city than I thought,” said Crump, a New Yorker who moved with her husband to a $2,200-a month apartment at Lime this month.
The explosive growth has raised some concerns over whether more affordable housing is needed amid buildings where a studio can run $1,200 a month, and prompted worries that the very people who give Uptown its hip and funky vibe could be priced out.
“It’s just not us,” Matt Barthelemy, who works at Common Roots on 26th and Lyndale. He appreciates the new money flowing into Uptown but worries that the neighborhood is losing its soul. “The more and more luxury apartments we see go up, the more corporations and chain stores we see go up, the more homogenized it is,” he said.
Even community boosters say they’d like to see some moderately priced homes in the development boom.
“The one hope is we do get some more … affordable housing,” said Soren Jensen, who is otherwise a cheerleader of the new developments and heads the Midtown Greenway Coalition.
Council Member Lisa Bender, who represents the area, is working on an initiative that could encourage developers to include affordable units in their buildings — not that she is trying to dull the enthusiasm about Uptown’s new high-end housing.
“I think a lot of people are excited,” Bender said.
The apartment buildings are populated with employees of General Mills, Target, and other Fortune 500 companies who have swapped the skylines of Chicago and New York for views of downtown Minneapolis and traded Michigan Avenue and Broadway for Lake Street.
Apartment managers are waging an intense battle for the twenty- and thirty-something newcomers. Greco Properties, which owns the Lime, Flux, and Blue apartments along the Greenway, is offering residents a free spot on a Caribbean cruise if they can bring in someone who signs a 12-month lease.
“We’re all getting all the same prospects … there’s so much supply that we’re trying to stay competitive,” said Jaime Perron, a manager at Greco.
Gyms, granite countertops, pools, rooftop lounge spaces, concierges and catered happy hours are the current fashion.
Ryan Adams, 25, said Elan Uptown gave him his first month’s rent free when he moved into a $1,700 one-bedroom apartment.
“They were all doing the same thing — you could tell they were competing,” he said.
Elan is the largest new development by far. It will have nearly 600 units by the time its third building is completed in the fall, sprawling between Dupont and Fremont avenues.
A public plaza is planned, with greenery and water flowing down steps into a pool. It would also offer residents direct access to the Greenway under a promenade that looks out over the trail. The complex has catered sushi, held wine tastings and organized networking events.
Track 29 bills itself as quiet and sophisticated, with a tea table in its lobby, a Zen garden and periodic art shows catered with wine and cheese from Louie’s Wine Dive. The two-story development, with nearly 200 units, features old railroad tracks that used to run down the Greenway in front of the building.