A neighborhood task force approved plans for a high-rise apartment tower that would replace the Nye's Polonaise Room in Minneapolis despite the objections of its neighbor, a historic church on the same block.
The latest plans call for 189 rental apartments in a 30-story tower that would sit atop one level of underground parking, five levels of above-grade parking and ground-floor retail space.
"We think this is the best plan for the site," said Maureen Michalski, senior project manager for Schafer Richardson.
Two of the most historic Nye's buildings would be preserved and the other two demolished. The oldest building on the site, the three-story "Harness Shop" building at 116 E. Hennepin Av., was built in 1905 and would be moved about 30 feet to the west and would abut a building at 112 E. Hennepin. A portion of the Harness Shop building would be demolished.
The developers of the project include longtime Twin Cities-based Schafer Richardson and restaurant owners Rob and Tony Jacob, who have owned the property for several decades and say the buildings are in disrepair and too expensive to rehabilitate.
Dale Herron, a representative from the adjacent Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, expressed concerns about its impact on the structure of the limestone church.
"We have a strong desire not to see this go forward in its present form," Herron said. "We're not against development on the site, but we simply do not think this fits the needs of the neighborhood."
In a memo to parishioners this weekend, church leaders also expressed concerns about shadowing and blocked sightlines from parts of the neighborhood.
Seven members of the volunteer task force, which is charged with making a recommendation to the neighborhood association, voted in favor of the plan and two were opposed.
Some in attendance praised the project for its scale and scope. Victor Grambsch, president of the Nicollet Island East Bank Neighborhood Association (NIEBNA), said the group has advocated for high-density developments that would bring additional retail and hundreds of new residents to the neighborhood. Last year, the group turned away several developers who proposed low-rise mixed-use buildings for a two-block site near Nye's, but recently gave the thumbs-up for a glass and concrete apartment tower with retail and restaurants.
The four-building site is within the St. Anthony Falls Historic District just across the river from downtown, and will be reviewed by NIEBNA and the Heritage Preservation Commission before it moves through the city approval process.
The tower is at least the third proposal for the neighborhood.