Plans for a 111-unit apartment project along the Midtown Greenway cleared a final hurdle Monday when the Minneapolis Planning Commission approved replatting several parcels for it.
The six-story Harriet Avenue Apartments will be on the south side of the greenway at 2905 Harriet Av. S. It's being developed by Solhem and TE Miller, which have worked together on several other Minneapolis rental projects.
The building will have 96 parking stalls in two underground levels. The main entrance for the residences would be along Harriet Avenue S. and the developer would create a pedestrian path, which they have dubbed the "Philosopher's Walk," that would be open to the public from dawn to dusk.
The building, which is broken into two smaller masses by using contrasting gray and black metal panels, will create a new east-west route for pedestrians that has not previously existed on that part of the trail, and it will include a one-story, "glass box" that would house the exercise room and would be located closest to the greenway, putting more "eyes on the street" and creating a focal "lighthouse" for greenway bicyclists and pedestrians, according to a planning application filed with the city.
Because of its proximity to the greenway and the impact that tall buildings have on the trail, the project and others like it have been closely watched by several neighborhood groups, including the Whittier Alliance and the Midtown Greenway Coalition. They influenced several key design elements, including the width of the sidewalks and the position and operation of walkway gates. The height of such buildings are of particular concern because of the way they block light on the bike and pedestrian trail at various times of the day.
Harriet Avenue Apartments is next to the proposed Rana Village, a 79-unit multifamily project that would include about 50 assisted-living units at 2900 Pleasant Av. S. next to Karmel West, a clinic and commercial node that caters to the Somali community.
Developer Basim Sabri plans to build a skyway across Pleasant Avenue that would connect the new building to Karmel Plaza, which has been called the largest Somali shopping center in the U.S. The second, fourth and fifth floors would have rental apartments with two- to four-bedroom units.
The developer requested permission to replat several parcels on the south side of the Midtown Greenway between Grand Avenue S. and Harriet Avenue S. The site is currently bisected by a public alley; the developer has already received permission to vacate the alley. Two houses, a garage and a surface parking lot will be demolished to make way for the project.
Developer Curt Gunsbury said the project has been shovel-ready for several months and construction will start immediately. The land-use applications for construction of the building were approved by the City Planning Commission on March 28, and in April the council voted to rezone the property.
Gunsbury and TE Miller recently completed a 71-unit apartment building in the North Loop called NoLo Flats. That building is now 90 percent leased, exceeding expectations, Gunsbury said. Just down the street, Solhem broke ground recently on an eight-story apartment building with 124 units on a surface parking lot at 721 N. 1st St.
"We had more demand than we thought," Gunsbury said. "And we have a couple more in the works in more cool spots."