Planning Commission approves 2626 W. Lake St. project

The Lander Group’s 2626 W. Lake St. project gained approval from the Planning Commission on April 24. The Cedar-Isles-Dean project would put 46 condo units and one 2,000-square-foot retail space on the north edge of Lake Calhoun, on the Weisman Enterprises site.

The CARAG-based Lander development group, headed by developer Michael Lander, has been working on the project since early 2005. The approved plans are scaled down from the original plans, which proposed a 70-unit condo/retail development – a plan that yielded neighborhood opposition. Those plans were withdrawn from the city last year.

The new proposal features 46 dwellings divided among four buildings, varying in height between four and seven stories. Two levels of parking – one partially above grade and one below – will serve the development with a total of 104 parking spaces.

While the new plan is scaled down in size, one thing both project proposals have in common is the need for city permission for an increase in building height and lot coverage, due to the proximity to the Lake Calhoun shoreline.

The project is located within the Shoreland Overlay District (SOD). The SOD is a zoning term that limits building heights – capping buildings at no more than 2.5 stories tall or 35 feet high. This is intended to protect city waters and enhance the environmental climate. A conditional-use permit (CUP) had to be obtained to bypass the zoning restriction and gain the approval.

The city staff report addressing the SOD reads: “The Planning Division does not believe that increasing the height of the building from 2.5 stories/35 feet to 7 stories/84 feet would be detrimental to or endanger the public health, safety, comfort or general welfare, as the building has been designed with varying heights and incorporates several setbacks to reduce the impact on the surrounding properties.”

In recent years, other projects on the Lake Calhoun shoreline, like the Edgewater, 1406 W. Lake St., have also gained SOD clearance from the city, allowing for taller buildings.

The Cedar-Isles-Dean Neighborhood Association (CIDNA) voted to not support Lander’s previous project in July of 2005. The floor area and height remained an issue for some residents.

But CIDNA President Chad Larsen said that in February the board voted for no opposition to the new project proposal, based on conditions that were listed in the Planning Commission’s approval.

Some of the conditions listed in the commission’s report include: commercial window view specifications, canopy tree requirements, a detailed landscaping plan and a stipulation to reinstall the public art located at the bus stop on West Lake Street & Thomas Avenue.

Larsen said that by the residents working with the developer, a better product has resulted. “Better for the neighborhood, better for the developer. All by working together,” he said.

For more information about the plans, visit www.2626westlake.com/.