A city committee has approved the appeals requested by United Properties that the developer says were critical to green-light its construction of the Gateway tower.
On Thursday, the zoning and planning committee of the Minneapolis City Council went against city staff recommendations and voted to allow United Properties to erect a sign for its anchor office tenant at the top of its planned mixed-use tower, among other design concessions.
“Now, it is our turn to step up and make this dream a reality,” City Council Member Lisa Goodman said.
The committee’s approval still needs to be referred to the full City Council, which meets Jan. 18.
At a height of 484 feet, or almost twice as high as the highest point of U.S. Bank Stadium, the sign for tenant RBC Wealth Management would be the highest sign on the city’s downtown skyscrapers.
In comparison, the Foshay Tower, which has the word “FOSHAY” in 10-foot-tall letters in the stone near the top of the building, is about 447 feet tall, not including its antenna mast.
The committee also overturned other conditions so the building can have a covered porte cochere entrance, where people could be dropped off and picked up along Hennepin Avenue, and a valet ramp down to the underground garage.
United Properties had appealed the conditions that were set by the city Planning Commission and the city’s Public Works Department. The development company warned that the conditions would jeopardize the project.
“Every project does reach a point where a decision needs to be made. … We have done everything we can here we believe to bring a great project forward,” said Bill Katter, head of United Properties Development, at the meeting.
United Properties wants to build the tower on a parking lot on the corner of Hennepin and Washington avenues where the former Nicollet Hotel once stood, but the project has been delayed numerous times.
The tower would include a Four Seasons hotel with about 280 rooms, more than 530,000 square feet of office space anchored by RBC and 22 condos. There would also be an underground parking garage for 455 vehicles.
The project would be one of the 10 tallest buildings in the city. United Properties has said the tower would have approximately 34 floors with an additional mechanical floor, though city staff has declared the building as 37 stories.
City staff had argued that the city doesn’t have signs at the top of its tallest buildings. Signs have been allowed close to the top of significantly shorter buildings such as the Wells Fargo towers near U.S. Bank Stadium, where signs are 199 feet above ground.
Staff was also concerned about the congestion that could be caused by the porte cochere, but Goodman commented that many hotels and residential buildings in downtown have similar entrances, and more traffic could obstruct the street and bike lanes without them.
United Properties moved the location of a bank branch in the tower and added plaza space to satisfy another city condition.
At the meeting, Council Member Steve Fletcher, who represents the ward where the tower would be located, voiced his support for the appeals, as did Mayor Jacob Frey.