A new upscale apartment building received final approval this week from the St. Louis Park City Council, despite objections from scores of residents who said it will be too big and result in more neighborhood congestion.
The six-story building, to be called the Quentin, will go up in the city’s West End at Cedar Lake Road and Quentin Avenue. The council unanimously backed the $21 million project at its meeting Monday.
“I really thought that this was the type of thoughtful and responsible development that really enhances our city’s housing resources,” said Council Member Tim Brausen, who represents the northwestern ward where the development will go.
The Quentin will include 79 units, eight of which will be marked as affordable. The building will have several eco-friendly features such as solar panels on the roof and electric vehicle charging stations, and developer Patrick Crowe will create a pedestrian trail link from Cedar Lake Road along Quentin Avenue and a bicycle hub.
Although the construction timeline has not been finalized, Crowe said he’d like to see it completed by late summer 2021. He said units will be priced slightly lower than the average rent of apartments in the area.
“With the rising cost of single-family homes and housing in general, I really want to see more people be able to access the amenities that St. Louis Park has to offer,” Crowe said.
According to city documents, Crowe has applied for $500,000 in tax-increment financing to defray part of his costs. City staffers will make a recommendation to the city’s economic development authority in the next month.
But some nearby residents say the building will tower over the surrounding mix of single-family homes and commercial buildings and may result in more traffic on neighboring streets.
Community members collected more than 160 signatures on an online petition to the city, expressing concerns about increased traffic and street parking. They said they also worried about the building’s height and the precedent it could set for future development of the area.
Evan Sundquist, who signed the petition and lives near the apartment site, noted that many nearby homes are no higher than two stories. “Having a six-story building seems kind of out of character for the neighborhood,” he said.
Residents voiced concerns at both a public hearing earlier this year and a City Council meeting on April 6. Sundquist, who spoke at the council meeting, said residents were not adequately heard because the meeting was held by video because of the pandemic.
“They acknowledged the 163 people that had signed the petition, but without having 163 people standing in front of them … they really didn’t get to see people’s voices from the neighborhood,” he said.
Brausen said the council often hears concerns from neighbors worried about a proposed development’s height and resulting traffic.
“Most of the community response we get back to all these proposals is substantially negative, because people don’t like to see change,” he said.
However, Brausen and other city officials emphasized that not all community feedback has been negative. “Some folks are very supportive of the project. They like to see this kind of blighted, low-development area be redeveloped,” said associate city planner Jacquelyn Kramer.
Council Member Margaret Rog said that while she supports the development, she wished it included more affordable housing units, “given our goals as a council and community to create more affordable housing.”
The Quentin, she said, “provides an opportunity to take a look at what our policies are doing or not doing in terms of the kind of housing that we’re supporting.”
Katrina Pross (email@example.com) is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.