After months of pushback from the Eliot Park Neighborhood organization and tepid feedback from the city, Kraus-Anderson has withdrawn its proposal for a new headquarters downtown Minneapolis that was scheduled for consideration at the Planning Commission's Nov. 10 meeting.
The construction company presented its design for a four-floor, 80,000 square foot office building multiple times to the city, most recently on Oct. 14, and was told each time to make some changes and come back in a few weeks. The new headquarters, if approved, would double the number of employees at the company's downtown location.
The main issue for the city has centered around Kraus-Anderson's inclusion of a surface parking lot in its plan, while the neighborhood is worried that the suggested exterior materials may not match the character of the district.
Mike Korsh, director of real estate development for Kraus-Anderson, said in an interview prior to the Oct. 14th meeting that he was fairly confident that the tweaks their architectural firm, Pope Architects, had made would win approval. He said his staff had met with neighborhood representatives multiple times and cited the city staff's recommendation that the Commission greenlight the project as "a good sign".
Minneapolis senior planner Becca Farrar presented the division's research at the last meeting, noting the changes, but also highlighting the continued existence of a surface parking lot. Kraus-Anderson argues that they tested the market to see if there was interest in the other half-block -- where they were proposing the surface lot -- but said there wasn't a tenant interested in occupying that space at present.
So a compromise between the city and Kraus-Anderson was included in the proposal's latest version: the company could build the lot, but in five years would have to try to find another commercial use for the space. If no one wanted to build on the site, Kraus-Anderson would then have to reapply for an interim use permit allowing a surface parking lot.
The neighborhood asked for a few specific changes during public comment at the Oct. 14 meeting. First, they would like to see more use of the traditional red tones that are emblematic of the neighborhood. Second, they want to see a more "welcoming" back door and some more trees so that the neighbors don't feel like they are facing the building's backside. And, third, they asked for Kraus-Anderson to consider putting a wrought iron fence around its property to mirror the historic brownstones across the street.
Kraus-Anderson has not said when it will resubmit another proposal.