Construction plans for a North Loop office building may need changing after the Minneapolis zoning and planning committee last week sided with a resident who argued it didn't fit the neighborhood.
The building was planned for a surface parking lot between N. 5th Avenue and the Cedar Lake Bike Trail. Developers CPM Cos. and Swervo Development said they wanted to construct a 10-story building with the upper floors used for offices and a retail business or restaurant occupying the ground floor. A skyway-style connection would join the new building to the Internet Exchange Building next to the site. Developers recently presented a plan that featured eight levels of parking, three underground and five above.
North Loop resident Jerrit Bromley said the new office was not to scale with the surrounding area and towered several floors over nearby structures, such as the Designers Guild Building and the new Arctic Cat headquarters. Bromley said it did not meet guidelines for the historic Warehouse District and technically stood several stories taller than what developers said if the above-grade parking, rooftop mechanical and elevator overruns were included.
"I just looked at the size of that thing and asked, 'How is that even possible?' " Bromley said in an interview.
At the committee meeting, staff said the building is actually 15 stories under the zoning code definitions of height and stories, though a casual observer on the outside would think it was 10 stories. The building, located at 419 Washington Av. N., falls in the 20th century Warehouse Area of the district, which has been designated historically significant because of its commercial development during the early growth of Minneapolis. Ten stories is the maximum in that portion of the district.
At the meeting, Bromley also pointed out that the proposed floor heights don't follow guidelines and the footprint is larger than that of surrounding buildings.
Bromley, who has lived in the North Loop for eight years, said he was originally attracted to the neighborhood because of its historical feel. While he has been supportive of the surge of development that has occurred over the last few years in the North Loop, Bromley said he didn't want the city to rush to approve a building "that sticks out like a sore thumb."
"What makes the North Loop so cool is the historical characteristics and the feel," he said.
Despite his resistance to the current design, Bromley said he generally supports the building's construction. The City Council is scheduled to review the appeal at a Friday meeting.
If the council agrees that the building is not appropriate, developers will have to go back to the Heritage Preservation Commission with a revised plan. The development team hasn't decided on a new direction if the building is rejected, said Sheldon Berg, a principal of DJR Architecture, which is working on the project.