Above: The proposed building at 43rd Street and Upton Ave. in Linden Hills.
A yearslong debate over the development of a Linden Hills corner that once housed a Famous Dave’s barbecue restaurant may soon come to a close.
Despite objections from a crew of vocal neighbors, a key city panel on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a four-story, 29-unit apartment project for the site at 43rd Street and Upton Avenue. It’s the fourth proposal for the site in the last three years after others failed to materialize or were rejected by the city.
Neighborhood activists have spent years trying to shape development at the corner but notably lost a 2013 fight at City Hall to limit building heights in the area to three stories.
That proved key for the latest proposal, by developer Clark Gassen, whose original building would have been an inch shorter than the maximum allowed height for a four-story building in the area — 56 feet. The committee shortened the project by a foot at Thursday’s meeting, to just under 55 feet.
Gassen, who also developed The Walkway in Uptown, noted that their proposal features a smaller footprint than all previous plan for the site.
“The other approved projects on this site had more parcels included and we do not,” Gassen said. “Our project is not that large.”
Opponents insisted the project is nonetheless out of character with the small-scale charm of Linden Hills. They expressed frustration that the small area plan for the neighborhood was stripped of height limitations beyond the zoning code, despite their wishes.
“It wasn’t until after the neighborhood had spent $60,000 and 15 months creating a plan to limit height … that suddenly they were told that the height restriction had to be removed,” said Stanford Hill, an attorney representing a group of neighbors.
“And for the small [area] plan now to be turned on its head and used against the neighborhood, to say, ‘Well we’re only giving you what you wanted with this plan’ is to subvert that process,” Hill said.
Constance Pepin, who filed an appeal, said nearby buildings would be “obliterated” by the scale of the proposal, which she described as “injurious.”
The development team has been meeting with neighbors and tweaking the project to appease some of their concerns. A new rendering was not immediately available on Thursday afternoon.
Thursday’s discussion centered on neighborhood appeals that had been filed, challenging the approval of the city’s planning commission. The council’s zoning and planning committee denied those appeals on a voice vote without any discussion. The vote must be affirmed by the full City Council next week.
Eric Roper • 612-673-1732