School site may hold apartments at 2201 Blaisdell

Rendering by DJR Architecture
Rendering by DJR Architecture

Yellow Tree Development Corporation is seeking to replace the former Urban League Academy High School and parking lot at 2201 Blaisdell Ave. with a five-story market-rate rental building.

About 75 units would range from “micro” units at 350 square feet to larger two-bedroom units at 1,000 square feet. Rental prices may range from about $940 to $2,100 per month.

The project would include 48-50 spaces of enclosed parking, and may incorporate community gardens on the third level and the roof.

Yellow Tree co-founder Bryan Walters said the company is interested in developing housing that’s close to Eat Street with easy access to Uptown and Downtown.

“Our target is kind of that budget-conscious professional, someone that doesn’t want to pay $1,500 for a small studio in Uptown,” he said. “…We’ve got high demand for rental in that area.”

Walters said the company launched about nine years ago with a focus on duplexes, evolving into commercial property holdings and now larger multifamily buildings.

“We like to focus on naturally affordable housing, affordable to the median income for the area,” he said. “We’re not a luxury builder. A lot of the neighborhoods, that’s kind of what they need at this point — a quality product at a reasonable price.”

One of their first projects is now home to Lawless Distilling Company and a woodworking shop in the Seward neighborhood. The company also renovated a boarded nursing home at 3515 2nd Ave. S. into 12 micro units.

“It was a great way to test the market on a smaller scale,” Walters said. “It leased up right away.”

The company recently received city approval to redevelop the building next door at 3501 2nd Ave. S. into 49 “micro unit” apartments. They plan to break ground on that project in July. Another Yellow Tree renovation project is underway at 38th & Cedar, with new tenants including a coffeehouse and acupuncturist.

The Urban League alternative high school closed in 2015, citing several years of operating losses. The building recently served as a Career Pathways public charter school, which is moving to Columbia Heights.

The project will appear for informal discussion before the city Planning Commission’s Committee of the Whole on June 29. The current proposal would require special approval for its density as well as a conditional use permit to allow five stories instead of four.

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  • David Schorn

    Again no “affordable housing” offered by the developer. The so called “market rate” is a rate established by the developers. They are NOT legally obligated to accurately report the vacancy rates of the apartments to the city or state which, allows them to drive up market rates by claiming low vacancies. This drives up other rental rates in apartments and small businesses which drives out citizens, many of whom are life-long residence of South Minneapolis. We need to demand more affordable housing and require apartment owners to accurately submit vacancy rates.

    David Schorn
    Candidate for Ward 10 City Council

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