Maybe the third time will be the charm for local architects trying to build a residential project on a busy corner of Edina’s France Avenue.
Since last summer, Minneapolis-based DJR Architecture has created several plans to replace an old office building and parking ramp at the intersection of France Avenue and Gallagher Drive, near the Centennial Shops retail center.
Its most ambitious design included a 14-story building and a bike bridge connecting to a 19-story residential tower on the other side of France Avenue. But the project and another design with just a single tower did not gain traction.
DJR on behalf of Bonjean Cos., led by Blake Bonjean, have proposed a more modest yet still aesthetically striking design that is scheduled to be discussed at the Wednesday meeting of the Edina planning commission.
The new proposal is for a seven-story, 135-unit apartment complex to be built at 7250 France Av. Per the city’s policy, 10 percent of the unit area would be affordable housing.
On the ground floor, 19,000 square feet of retail and office space is proposed. A new underground parking ramp would have room for 302 vehicles.
Earlier designs also included a property just to the north that currently is the site of an office building. But DJR has now scrapped using that parcel.
“Now we have one owner,” said Dean Dovolis, principal at DJR Architecture. “The concept is more appropriate for the scale of the site.”
Renderings show the complex would have a U-shaped layout with lofts on the top floor. Recessed patios are cut into the building’s facade that could be wrapped with wood or metal. The apartments’ amenity floor on the second level includes a courtyard deck with green space and possibly a swimming pool. The first floor where the commercial space would be is surrounded by mostly glass windows with areas for outdoor dining.
“It really is trying to break up the volume,” said project architect Erik Bjorum describing the project’s use of glass and recessed patios.
While in the past the development has been called the Crossroads Project, there is no official name for the currently proposed design.
Last July, the DJR team submitted plans to the city for the first version of the project with the tall towers and bike bridge as well as a U-shaped apartment complex at 7200 France Av. But later, Michigan-based Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust, which owns Centennial Shops, said it hadn’t approved the plans, so the tallest tower in the project was scrapped.
The next month, a new plan was resubmitted with the apartment complex and the shorter tower with a bike bridge that stretched across a small city easement on the other side of France Avenue to an existing bike trail. However, the Three Rivers Park District said the bridge wouldn’t meet its design standards.
Ultimately, EG Capital LLC, which had been a development partner on the project and had purchase agreements to buy both properties with the office buildings, never closed on the acquisitions, Dovolis said. The 7200 property is currently owned by 7200 France LLC, an entity that is jointly owned by Minneapolis developers Jim Eischens and Lori Boisclair.
The project is still at the beginning of the city planning process but if it is approved, construction could start in late fall with completion by mid-2020, Dovolis said.
DJR is also working on another residential project in Edina. Frauenshuh Commercial Real Estate submitted a plan last month for a 17-story tower with artist lofts and an art center at the site of the city’s former public works facility.