Hundreds of apartments for seniors could rise in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood of Minneapolis, without the conflict that often accompanies new developments in old neighborhoods.
On Thursday, the Minneapolis Planning Commission’s Committee of the Whole heard a presentation about the project from Lupe Development and Swervo Development. But the project has been in the works for more than a year.
In January 2018, developers started discussions with the neighborhood association about their vision for the former CenturyLink building at 2800 Wayzata Blvd. and its surrounding eight acres.
The developers want to break ground for the first phase of the project— an affordable senior living apartment building and a market-rate building for seniors with underground parking shared between the two — in the spring of 2020. Both the buildings will be six stories, with 100 dwelling units, and should be ready for occupancy in June 2021.
“We were mentally prepared and therefore there was no question of opposing the plan,” said Kevin Thompson, president of the Bryn Mawr Neighborhood Association. “One of the things lacking in the neighborhood is affordable housing for any category. This project helps us achieve that for the senior division of people.”
Last May, around 100 people from the neighborhood participated in a design charrette that lasted three hours. “We discussed traffic, landscaping, building designs, connections to the park,” said Steve Minn, vice president and chief financial manager for Lupe Development.
After that event, Minn and his team held three more meetings with members of the neighborhood in which they discussed concepts.
Minn said that this is how he typically approaches projects in established neighborhoods. “I don’t rush it because neighbors are usually struggling with change. In this specific case, the patience and willingness of the neighbors to participate dictated the entire project,” he said.
Minn said that unlike a project in Uptown, where it is typical to have features such as a rooftop bar, the housing campus will focus on amenities oriented to seniors. “We are going to have a greenhouse and extensive garden opportunities. That is a pastime the seniors do more often rather than people who work full time,” Minn said.
David Miller, the lead architect from UrbanWorks, is also a Bryn Mawr resident. “This is not a coincidence. The developers asked us if we had an architect in the neighborhood who would want to work on the project,” Thompson said.
The property is immediately adjacent to Theodore Wirth Park to the northwest and is north of Interstate 394.
The second phase of the project includes the rehabilitation of the existing office building on the site. A future Phase III would include a senior assisted-living facility with memory care in a new building.