Above: The West Broadway Curve site. West Broadway Crescent, a new affordable housing project, can be seen in the background.
A swath of vacant land just off north Minneapolis’ main commercial corridor will soon offer a key test of whether the area can sustain new, unsubsidized apartments.
The city will solicit development proposals this week for a city-owned 2.1-acre empty lot along West Broadway Ave’s distinctive curve, where officials hope attract a high-density residential housing. The site sits beside the newly constructed West Broadway Crescent affordable housing complex, which is now leasing.
Despite the emergence of several apartment projects on the North Side in recent years, almost all of the units have been subsidized and are also therefore income restricted. Tiffany Glasper, the city’s senior project coordinator for residential finance, said they hope the so-called “West Broadway Curve” site attracts a project (or projects) with mixed-income tenants.
“And when I say mixed-income what I mean is some … subsidized units and some not subsidized units,” Glasper said, conceding that "sometimes you just cannot make the math work." She said the site's size may require developers to carve it up.
The development objectives for the site say 51 percent of the new units should be for households making 80 percent of the area median income. But the objectives also stress an "emphasis on market-rate housing” for the site.
Whether developers jump at the opportunity remains unclear. The city issued a similar request for proposals for the nearby “Capri Block” in 2013, but received no offers, Glasper said.
But she hopes the Broadway Curve site will benefit from other momentum now occurring along West Broadway. In addition to a recently constructed Minneapolis Public Schools headquarters and West Broadway Crescent, a closing is expected soon for Broadway Flats up the street on Penn Avenue. The Flats project – aided by a city tax increment financing deal – features more than 100 housing units and commercial space on Penn Avenue.
“One other selling point is the fact that the site backs up to a very well-established north Minneapolis neighborhood, which makes it all that more appealing,” Glasper said of the Jordan neighborhood.
Attracting a wider range of incomes to the area would also have an impact on the retail economy.
“Part of what north Minneapolis is lacking is really good solid sustainable quality commercial and retail,” Glasper said. “And the way you go about attracting that type of commercial and retail is by providing them with a customer base.”
The city's estimated fair market value of the site is $570,846.
The city’s community development committee will vote this Wednesday on soliciting proposals, which Proposals will be due by March 20, 2015.