Above: A photo submitted to the city of the Karmel Plaza property, as it faces the Midtown Greenway.
A proposal to further expand a prominent Somali mall is revisiting concerns about shadows on the Midtown Greenway.
Already undertaking a major expansion of Karmel Plaza mall near Lake Street on Pillsbury Avenue, owner Basim Sabri is pushing back on a 2014 city request that he step back its upper floors to reduce shadows on the Greenway. Sabri complied with the setback, but now wants to fill in that space on the third and fourth floors.
"Business is booming. I hope that's not a problem," Sabri said.
The project altogether represents a major investment in Karmel Plaza, first constructed in 2005. In addition to an array of small Somali retailers, the site now hosts one of the largest mosques in the state as well as a new three-story parking ramp.
Bicycling advocates generally oppose proposals that would shadow the Greenway, in particular because they would reduce the melting of ice in the wintertime. They were still getting up to speed on the proposal when contacted this week.
"As a major bike commuter trail even in the winter, the Greenway needs to be clear of ice and snow as quickly as possible," wrote Soren Jensen, executive director of the Midtown Greenway Coalition, in an e-mail. "But even in the warmer months, our goal is to have a sunny Greenway, not one that is covered in shadows."
Sabri brought his proposal to the city planning commission's committee of the whole Thursday evening. He and his architect said expanding the third floor would add no new shadows, and they would be willing to scale back their proposal for the fourth floor.
Sabri pointed to several large buildings that have been built along the Greenway, nearer to Uptown.
"Other projects are closer, higher, and just down the street," Sabri said. "And I'm sure you all agree: It's the same sun, it's the same shadow and its the same Greenway."
The proposal is still preliminary. It must pass through the city planning commission and City Council before it is approved.
The mall's expansion was also in the news last year, when part of the third-floor addition collapsed.