Two local developers, Arcadia LLC and Ryan Cos., want to build a pair of Art Deco-inspired condo towers across from the Galleria and Southdale shopping centers, the latest and biggest additions in a rapidly evolving transformation of Edina.
The proposal, which emerged publicly Tuesday, comes at a time when availability of for-sale condos is extremely low in the Twin Cities.
The project, called Estelle Edina, includes the two towers, six brownstone-style condos, 12,000 square feet of retail and a signature restaurant at the corner of France Avenue and 69th Street.
“I grew up just a few blocks down on France Avenue and am excited about the vision that so many people have for this district,” said Arcadia President Luigi Bernardi, who grew up in the Cornelia neighborhood and is a lifelong Edina resident. His company recently completed the nearby Aurora on France, a senior living project.
“Our goal is to give the corner of France and 69th a community feel — walkable, accessible and livable,” he said.
Both towers will be slender enough to minimize the visual impact of the buildings and have four units at most per floor.
The towers will be built with stone and glass and, because of the compact floorplate, every unit will be on its own corner. There will be four units per floor on the lower levels, two units per floor on the upper levels and a penthouse at the top. The tallest tower is expected to have 24 stories with 82 units for sale. The other tower will be 20 stories tall and have 70 units.
An existing Bremer Bank and BMO Harris Bank now on the site will move to new spaces in the project.
While thousands of rental apartments have been built in recent years, only a few hundred for-sale condominiums have been built. Developers cite excessive liability under current Minnesota construction-defect laws, and the issue is being debated in the Legislature. At the end of April, there were 647 condo units for sale in the metro area, 24 percent fewer than a year ago, according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors.
Estelle Edina would be the first suburban high-rise condo project to be built since the 2008 recession, and it’s just a block from the Residences at the Westin Galleria, an 82-unit property above the 225-room Westin Hotel that opened that very year. There are currently about a half-dozen units on the market in that building, ranging from $479,900 to $1.65 million.
The Estelle Edina project, which will be marketed by Lakes Sotheby’s International Realty, has been designed to fill a need for owner-occupied housing, particularly for empty-nesters, sales agent John Wanninger said.
“Simply put, demand is very strong with few options for Edina residents who want to transition to maintenance-free living but who don’t want to leave Edina.” said Wanninger, who also marketed the Westin condos.
The project is part of a re-visioning process for what’s known as the Greater Southdale Area, which began in early 2015 as part of Edina’s long-term planning policy. The effort included the input from 16 Edina residents for the Greater Southdale Work Group, including neighbors and business and civic leaders who helped develop guiding principles for the district.
Mic Johnson, design principal at Architecture Field Office LLC in Golden Valley, is leading that process.
“There is a lot of neighborhood, business and city support to create a vibrant, forward-looking and accessible district,” he said in a statement. “It allows for a healthy mix of building heights, densities and uses, and creates a public realm that promotes a walkable, healthy and safe environment.”
The proposal, which is at the beginning of the municipal approvals process, is part of a series of development projects that are slated to increase commercial and residential density along the busiest part of France Avenue.
“Our intent is to support the district’s vision. We are passionate about creating best-in-class streetscapes and owner-occupied residences that the citizens of Edina will be proud of,” said Carl Runck, developer with Ryan.
Runck said that the team has submitted conceptual plans to the city for sketch plan review by the its planning commission and City Council. He expects to start construction during the first quarter 2018.
In recent years, Edina has been focused on redeveloping the sprawling surface lots that have served the many retail stores and office buildings in the area. Already, luxury apartments have been built in some of the parking lots at Southdale.
Earlier this year, furniture retailer Restoration Hardware said that it wants to build a four-story showroom and store in the southwest corner of the mall.
Across the street, the $100 million-plus Avenue on France project, formerly known as the Promenade on France, is remaking a 23-acre site that is currently the Southdale Office Centre. It will add a medical office building, retail, condos and a hotel.
About 2 miles north of Southdale, the Edina City Council last month approved a $79 million redevelopment plan for more retail, housing and parking near the 50th and France shopping district.