A modernist downtown Minneapolis building that some argued was worth preserving will soon meet the wrecking ball following a City Council vote Friday.
Developers want to replace the half-century-old building at 21 N. Washington Av. with a 27-story apartment complex. City planners argued that the building should be spared and studied further because of its unique design and its role in the clearing of Minneapolis' skid-row district.
The building was erected in 1969 to be the home of Knutson Construction, which at the time was overseeing the redevelopment of the city's Gateway District. The Gateway project resulted in the complete destruction of entire blocks of historic buildings in downtown, replaced by modern structures like 21 N. Washington.
"The building is characterized by its unique geometric patterns and depressions of alternating precast concrete panels and glazing, as well as the building's car-centric design with parking located at the first level and office stories above," city planners wrote in a staff report.
The city's elected leaders cited a lengthy study prepared by historical preservation consultant Amy Lucas, on behalf of the developers, concluding that the building does not meet the standards for preservation.
"I really feel Ms. Lucas' analysis … of this building was about as thorough as I have seen," Council Member Lisa Goodman said at a committee hearing earlier this month. "And that's really what we need to take into consideration here."
The council's unanimous vote Friday reverses a decision of the city's citizen-led heritage preservation commission, which voted in January to protect the building.
Among the supporters of the demolition are the Downtown Council, which submitted a letter saying the property can be part of a "burgeoning high-density residential district" in this part of downtown. The same team redeveloping the 21 N. Washington property is building a 22-story residential building next door.
"The past year has been hard on our City, but the development interest in this site is a sign of better times ahead, and a continued belief in this market when others have expressed doubts," wrote Downtown Council President Steve Cramer. "This is no time to put up barriers to continued investment and growth."
Eric Roper • 612-673-1732