Driving on West Lake Street between Hennepin and Lyndale avenues, several new apartments and commercial/townhome developments cast unfamiliar shadows. A combined 360 units of new housing and a handful of new retail spaces are rising where parking lots and vacant buildings once stood.
The housing projects include two buildings by Detroit-based Village Green Company called Uptown City Apartments. One is at Fremont Avenue on the old Perkins Restaurant site and the other at Aldrich Avenue.
Just across the street from the Fremont site, developer Ross Fefercorn’s RMF Entities Ltd. is building townhomes and two commercial buildings. Called Emerson Row Townhomes and Uptown Row Commercial, they sit on the site of a former police garage.
The final and largest Uptown development is just beginning construction. The Urban Village development will occupy the north side of 29th Street from Aldrich to Dupont avenues. It’s divided into three one-block sections; each with a different developing group and treated as separate developments.
Phase I involves two developers, Fefercorn’s Country Home Builders and Michael Lander’s Sherman Lander Group, each with its own block. Lander’s development, which will start construction this month, is called Midtown Lofts on the 2800 block of Bryant Avenue South. Fefercorn’s is the 2800 block of Aldrich, which he expects to begin building in spring 2004.
If the average Minneapolis city block has 25 homes, the 360 units translates into about 14 new blocks of residents. Although there are some concerns about traffic generated by the newcomers, many in the Uptown/Lyn-Lake community are excited about the added vitality in the area.
Village Green The Uptown City Apartments’ Lake and the Fremont site will add 84 units of rental housing, two or three retail spaces, two live/work units and 81 parking spaces. Melanie Hearsch of Village Green said the development is 60 percent complete and should be ready for tenants by February 2004.
She said Village Green’s Aldrich site would feature 84 units of rental housing, four live/work units and 84 parking spots. Hearsch said construction is 40 percent complete, and they’re hoping that tenants can move in next summer.
Monthly rents for the units start at $945 for studios, $1,170 for one-bedrooms, $1,555 for two-bedrooms and $2,130 for three-bedrooms. Hearsch said that since Village Green opened a preleasing center in Calhoun Square, 3001 Hennepin Ave. S., in September, they’ve already leased 35 percent of the Fremont units and 20 percent of the Aldrich units.
Emerson Row Townhomes and Uptown Row Commercial
In the planning stages are the Emerson Row Townhomes that will add six townhomes to Uptown’s CARAG neighborhood. The units will include double garages and mini-backyards. Fefercorn said he hopes to break ground and commence building this year, with a move-in goal of next spring.
Townhome prices start at $400,000. Although not yet constructed, at least one or two units have been reserved already, Fefercorn said.
Adjoining the housing development on Lake Street will be two commercial buildings called Uptown Row. Fefercorn said the two buildings would have a combined 39,000 square feet, which he’ll divide in half for retail and office space. There will be a 76-car pay lot to accommodate the development’s parking.
The west building is currently under construction, and Fefercorn said he hopes to have it ready for tenants by next January or February. The foundation for the east building has already been poured, he said, and it’s also expected to be complete by early 2004.
Although he wouldn’t specify retail tenants, Fefercorn said they would include a hair salon, a massage therapy business, a sun tanning business, a dessert caf and a sandwich shop, in addition to his new office space.
Urban Village The three-piece Urban Village will have 190 lofts, townhomes and single-family homes, increasing home ownership in the Lowry Hill East (Wedge) neighborhood. Phase I of the project includes two of the project’s three developments: the Midtown Lofts, which will occupy a block between Bryant and Colfax avenues on the north side of 29th Street, and Fefercorn’s development, which will occupy the block from Aldrich to Bryant avenues.
Midtown Lofts will consist of a two-story, 16-unit building on the block’s north edge and two four-story "L" shaped buildings on the southeast and southwest corners, totaling 72 condominium units.
The price for the units ranges from $179,000 to $519,000. Eleven units would be affordable; four between 60 and 80 percent of a household’s metro median income (MMI) and seven between 80 and 110 percent of MMI. According to the 2000 Census, the household Metropolitan Median Income for 1999 was $54,304.
Although there are other townhome developments nearby, Lander said he’s not worried about saturating the market. He said buyers have already reserved 24 units of the 72 units. Construction has yet to begin, but it’s expected to commence soon and continue through 2004, with the goal of moving in tenants by next fall.
Fefercorn’s development will consist of 54 townhomes and 56 lofts. Each townhome will have two parking spaces and each loft at least one, he said. Fefercorn said he’s a bit behind Lander in the city process, but he hopes to be able to break ground on the development next spring.
Brighton Development is building Phase II of the project on the 2800 block of Colfax. It is not scheduled to start construction for a few years.
Increasing the Uptown population Cindy Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Uptown Association, said she’s heard a mostly positive reception from the business community about adding more people and traffic to the area.
While some business owners are concerned about parking, she said they’re trying to look at it as a good sign of a booming area. Fitzpatrick said once the new people move in and everything settles, problems will work themselves out.
She said Uptown businesses would take advantage of an influx of potential customers by packaging up welcome kits for new residents containing phone directories, local publications and gift certificates from nearby businesses.
Fitzpatrick said many local merchants are just excited that people want to live and hang out in Uptown again. She said just a year ago, interest wasn’t as prevalent, and local businesses are ready for it. "We’re very excited about the upswing," she said.