A swath of vacant land 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 Avenue's distinctive curve, where officials hope to attract high-density residential housing. The site sits beside the newly constructed West Broadway Crescent affordable housing complex, which is now leasing out units.

Despite the emergence of several apartment projects on the North Side in recent years, almost all of the units have been subsidized and come with income restrictions.

Tiffany Glasper, the city's senior project coordinator for residential finance, said they hope the so-called "West Broadway Curve" site attracts a development and tenants with a more diverse range of incomes.

"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."

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 got no offers, Glasper said.

But she hopes the Broadway Curve site will benefit from other development 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.

"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 affect the retail economy.

The way to attract sustainable commercial and retail ventures, Glasper said, "is by providing them with a customer base."

The city's estimated fair market value of the site is $570,846. Proposals are due by March 20.

Eric Roper • 612-673-1732

Twitter: @StribRoper