The owner of Arezzo Ristorante plans to replace three houses with a 16-unit apartment building across the alley from his restaurant near the popular 50th and France shopping area.

Dean Dovolis of DJR Architecture said that Adam Smith wants to build the project, to be called Ewing Place, on the southeast corner of 51st Street and Ewing Avenue South, which is in MInneapolis on the edge of Edina and adjacent to a surface parking lot.

The proposed three-story building will include 17 parking spaces on the first floor of the brick and stucco building, which will have walkout units on the first floor and balconies on the upper-floor units. Dovolis said the firm presented its plans to neighbors at a community meeting in early January and has already submitted a land-use application to the city and hopes to be on the agenda for the city’s planning commission meeting on March 19. If there are no major objections, construction is expected to start this summer, with occupancy happening a year later.

Smith started the restaurant more than 15 years ago in an area that’s been a hotbed for residential and commercial development. “He’s had this vision for a long time to put a nice luxury apartment building behind his restaurant and now he’s finally following through with it,” Dovolis said.

Several luxury rental buildings are in the works, or have recently been built, in the area, which is within walking distance to dozens of upscale shops and restaurants, but Dovolis said that this is the first new development on the east side of France in many years.

Just a few blocks away, Minneapolis-based Saturday Properties and Edina-based Buhl Investors are developing Nolan Mains, a 100-unit apartment and retail project in the parking lot of the former Nolan’s Golf Terrace Cafe at 49 ½ Street between France Avenue and Halifax Avenues.

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