The owners of the Vikings are proposing a 17-story tower with 201 apartments on a parking lot that is one of the last undeveloped sites along Washington Avenue in downtown Minneapolis.
Don Becker, a principal with the Wilf family's New Jersey-based Garden Homes Development, said he plans to present the company's plans for 240 Park Av. to the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association's land-use committee on Aug. 6.
"We want feedback from neighbors," Becker said. "This is going to be a long-term relationship, so we want to be good neighbors."
The project comes at a time of intense apartment development in the city. A record number of rental units have been proposed or are in the pipeline throughout the metro area.
Several hundred units are under construction or slated to be built along the Washington Avenue corridor that has become a magnet for developers. That includes a recently opened Trader Joe's and a low-rise apartment building next door; the 14-story Ironclad apartments and an eight-story Moxy hotel that are under construction; and plans in the works for two more high-density projects with hundreds of units.
Washington Avenue has been the darling of developers because of the availability of development sites and its proximity to cultural and sports attractions including the Guthrie Theater, U.S. Bank Stadium and MacPhail Center for Music. The St. Anthony Falls and recreational paths that flank the Mississippi River are just two blocks away.
Becker said the proposed L-shaped tower at 240 Park, which was designed by the BKV Group, takes cues from surrounding buildings old and new. It will be clad with brick and metal panels. Unlike the red-brick warehouse buildings next door, 240 Park would have off-white and gray brick.
For the Wilf family, the project is something of a return to its roots as a housing developer. The company now owns and manages "tens of thousands" of rental units across the country, Becker said.
"Residential is what's in the blood from a family business standpoint," he said.
Though the unit mix and rents haven't been established yet, the apartments are being designed to suit tenants who might be looking for a place to live long-term and that will evolve as their needs change. Becker expects the building to resemble apartment projects the Wilfs have developed in other cities, which means larger-than-average units and a range of amenities from theaters to bowling alleys. The proposed building would have outdoor space on a sixth-floor deck, an indoor/outdoor resident gathering space on the top floor and 5,000 to 6,000 square feet of street-level retail space.
Mary Bujold, president of Maxfield Research and Consulting in Golden Valley, said that while she likes the location and the high-rise concept, she has some general concerns about the number of projects that are in the pipeline downtown.
"Absorptions have started to slow somewhat, and there are some limited concessions out there for specific properties," she said.
The Wilfs acquired the surface parking lot at the corner of Park and Washington avenues in 2007 — long before construction of the U.S. Bank Stadium began — when they bought a small portfolio of parking lots from Central Parking. They also own two adjacent parking lots that are closer to the stadium and next to a light-rail stop. Becker said the company is open to building condominiums as part of a mixed-use project on the other lots.
Garden Homes has already made a deep commitment to the Twin Cities suburbs. The company is developing a 200-acre mixed-use project in Eagan that has received approvals for 1,000 residential rentals. The Vikings have moved into a new facility on 40 acres of that site, and a new medical building has been built for Twin Cities Orthopedics. The project includes indoor and outdoor practice fields, administrative offices and a Vikings museum and store.