Calhoun Square hearing set for Nov. 28, modified plans submitted

Plans for the reconstruction of Uptown’s Calhoun Square, 3001 Hennepin Ave. S., were continued again at the Oct. 31 Planning Commission meeting, repeating a delay on Oct. 5. The new hearing date is set for Monday, Nov. 28.

In the meantime, Calhoun Square developers, Solomon Real Estate, have been hard at work on altered renovation plans for the Uptown mall, which they submitted to CARAG. The neighborhood voted to not support the new plan at its November meeting.

The $75 million overhaul of the Uptown mall will expand it to West 31st Street, east to Fremont Avenue and add amenities, including an outdoor courtyard, 1.5 parking levels and new retailers. The project also sports 124 new housing units, split between the buildings fronting on 31st and on Lake Street.

CARAG Zoning and Land Use Committee Chair Aaron Rubenstein said the previous Calhoun Square plan had three six-story buildings along 31st Street surrounding an open plaza, but with the plan modifications it has been changed to one five story building on the corner, stepped back from the street.

The previously planned plaza was also expanded as part of the plan modifications. But despite a larger plaza, CARAG residents cited in a resolution that it’s “problematic and unattractive,” adding that it lacks trees, pedestrian routes to the mall and a proposed screen wall fails to engage the community with the space.

Other changes include increase height of the building set for along Lake Street, located on the block east of Girard Avenue. The mixed-use building was planned for six stories – two retail, four residential above – but its’ now set for seven stories. In CARAG’s resolution, both the five-story and seven story buildings were deemed “too tall.”

Rubenstein said smaller new changes to the plan also include added architectural detail and foliage to the parking ramp to improve the view of the ramp from residents on Fremont Avenue.

CARAG neighborhood residents have held workshops, community meetings and drafted letters to the developer, citing specific concerns about the project. Concerns have included the desire to reduce condo building height and to address traffic management, the lack of affordable housing, and environmental building and pollution concerns.