Condominium association airs Southwest LRT concerns

Calhoun-Isles residents want assurances light rail won’t make homes “uninhabitable”

CIDNA — Residents of 143-unit Minneapolis condominium tower expressed concerns about the unknown impacts Southwest light rail construction and operation might have on their building in a letter to Mayor Betsey Hodges and the City Council this week.

One of two shallow tunnels intended to carry trains through the narrow Kenilworth Corridor will be dug just feet from the Calhoun-Isles Condominiums, a converted grain elevator located just north of Lake Street between Lake Calhoun and Cedar Lake. They worry the building could be damaged during construction and about the vibration and noise from passing trains.

“They are concerned, for good reason, that the construction of the tunnel, and the operation of the trains, will render their homes uninhabitable,” wrote Felhaber Larson attorney Christopher Hayhoe, who represents the Calhoun-Isles Condominium Association.

About 200 trains per day are expected to make the trip between downtown Minneapolis and Eden Prairie when the 15.8-mile extension of the Green Line opens in 2019. Hennepin County and five cities along the route are currently reviewing plans for the light-rail transit (LRT) line approved by the Metropolitan Council this spring.

Crews are conducting fieldwork this summer all along the future line, including soil borings. But the condo association’s letter argued there will not be enough detailed information before the City Council is required to approve or disapprove of plans next month.

“The Condominium residents should not have to sacrifice their property so that this project can be constructed in this way,” Hayhoe writes. “We respectfully request that you supply us with assurance that these concerns will be accounted for.”

Spokesperson Laura Baenen wrote in an email the Met Council “believe(s) the condos will remain habitable with Southwest LRT.”

“We have been meeting with the condo association to discuss the project office’s studies,” Baenen continued. “We will continue to coordinate with them to conduct further field evaluation and engineering study on the design and construction of the shallow tunnel.”

Also this week, a group of Kenilworth Corridor-area homeowners calling themselves the Lakes and Parks Alliance sent a letter through their attorneys to Hodges, the Minneapolis Council members and the Met Council questioning the legality of the ongoing municipal consent process.

They said further study of the environmental impact of the two tunnels must be completed before local governments vote on the plan. A late addition to the Southwest LRT design, they weren’t included in a 2012 draft environmental impact statement, or DEIS.

A supplemental DEIS, with a review of the tunnels and other design changes, is expected this fall.