Stevens Square condos get Council okay

The Minneapolis City Council has given the go-ahead to construction of a 22-unit condo in Stevens Square/Loring Heights, rejecting a neighborhood appeal to stop it.

Groundbreaking should begin in June, said David Crockett of Crockett Associates, one of five investors. The four-story condo will span two now-vacant lots on the south end of the block along East 18th Street between Clinton and 3rd avenues. The condo will arch over the alley.

The project will take nine to 10 months to build, he said. Units will range from 800-square-foot one-bedroom apartments to 1,700-square-foot two-bedroom-plus-den apartments. The development will have underground parking.

Estimated prices range from $160,000 to $330,000, Crockett said. Investors are pre-selling units before groundbreaking.

The Council must still approve vacating the alley. Its Zoning and Planning Committee is expected to vote Thursday, April 18. Crockett said the alley would remain open. Vehicles would have a 15.5-foot clearance, one foot more than the Fire Department requires. The project also needs an easement from the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

The project required variances to build closer to property lines than code allows. Neighbors opposed the condo, saying it would be too big, too close to an existing condo and remove too much green space.

The variances reduce the front yard set-back along 3rd Avenue from 15 feet to 4.5 feet; reduce the side yard set-back along 18th Street from 14 feet to 0 feet; reduce the side yard set-back on the north property line from 11 feet to 2.5 feet; and, increase the allowable lot coverage from 70 percent to 75 percent.

The Planning Commission approved the Conditional Use Permit, site plan and variances Feb. 24. The Stevens Square Community Organization appealed the decision to the Council's Zoning and Planning Committee.

The committee ratified approval March 27. The Council concurred April 4, 11-2. Councilmembers Dean Zimmermann (6th Ward) and Robert Lilligren (8th Ward) voting no.

"Right now the Stevens Square neighborhood is a very densely populated and built-up neighborhood," said Zimmermann, who represents the area. "It could use more open and green space."

Gene Blackledge, SSCO president, said if the city approves vacating the alley, the neighborhood will have no more appeals to stop the project.