After years of neighborhood opposition in Linden Hills, apartments will soon rise on the corner of W. 43rd Street and Upton Avenue S.
The Minneapolis City Council gave final approval Friday to a four-story, 29-unit building on a corner formerly occupied by a Famous Dave's restaurant. Though a relatively small project, its passage signals the end of a yearslong effort by well-organized neighbors to shape development on the corner.
It is the fourth proposal for that corner to reach City Hall in just the last three years — others failed to launch or were rejected by the city — but developer Clark Gassen said it would be the last.
"We have a waiting list of people that want to move into this development. This project will break ground," Gassen said.
One opponent said nearby houses would be "obliterated" by the four-story height of the new apartment building.
"Now we're going to have a building that is twice as high as 95 percent of the other buildings in that little downtown," said Constance Pepin, who had appealed an initial city approval. "It's going to totally change — and I think for the worse — the character. I think it's going to destroy the character of Linden Hills' downtown."
Gassen said they have been working with neighbors to tweak the project, particularly around building materials and color palettes. He hopes to hire local artists to install art in the pocket park on the corner.
Another neighbor, Larry Lavercombe, filed an appeal aimed at improving the overall design of the building. He sounded optimistic about the project Friday afternoon.
"I'm very pleased," said Lavercombe, a real estate agent. "And very much looking forward to working with the developer on all the decisions that are left: color, material, pedestrian space, the way the finishes interact with the pedestrian community."
Council Member Linea Palmisano, who represents the area, apologized at Friday's council meeting for personal attacks that opponents have lodged against city staff.
"I also am ready for the healing of this area, and of this special corner, to begin," Palmisano said. "I have a great deal of compassion for those that have expressed their thoughts through this process and their feelings that they've had. I also know that we operated in a strict legal framework here. I believe this land use meets that and I'd be making an arbitrary decision if I denied or voted no against this matter today."
Gassen has developed two notable Minneapolis projects in Uptown: the Walkway (with a hot tub cantilevered over Lake Street) and the Edgewater condominiums beside Lake Calhoun.
The 43rd and Upton project is slated to start construction in spring 2016. Gassen said it would take 10 to 12 months to complete.
About half of the ground-floor retail space will be occupied by a to-be-named restaurant.