Linden Corner received favorably by planning commissioners

LINDEN HILLS — On Sept. 22, Mark Dwyer’s Linden Corner project was received favorably by Planning Commissioners during the first city discussion about his proposed mixed-use redevelopment of 43rd & Upton.

While the discussion was informal, the Planning Commission’s Committee of the Whole (COW) had almost nothing but positive things to say about Dwyer’s $22 million plan.

That plan involves tearing down the converted gas station currently home to Famous Dave’s and an adjacent office building along Upton Avenue. Those buildings would be replaced by a 59-foot mixed-use building featuring a restaurant, five commercial spaces and a large office on the first level, with 32 to 34 one- to three-bedroom condos on the upper floors.

There would be 136 total parking stalls on site, 122 underground and 14 surface spots.

Planning Commission President David Motzenbecker (6th Ward) said he liked the idea of providing “lifestyle housing” for seniors. Dwyer plans to sell many of the condo units to “empty nesters” looking to move from single-family homes into smaller residences.

Motzenbecker also praised the architectural quality of the project.

The COW’s reception stands in stark contrast to how Dwyer’s plan has been received in Linden Hills, where over 1,000 people signed a petition asking City Council Member Betsy Hodges (13th Ward) not to support the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) Dwyer needs to build a five-floor structure at 43rd & Upton.

But during the COW meeting, Planning Commissioner Theodore Tucker (3rd Ward) said he isn’t concerned about the possibility of a five-story structure at 43rd & Upton. Other commissioners commended the project design for being neighborhood appropriate in both its architectural quality and scale.   

During his presentation to the planning commissioners, Dwyer characterized the neighborhood discussion about his proposal as a “nightmare” and expressed frustration about the fact that many neighbors have been misinformed about the project. Commissioners commended him for organizing focus groups in an effort to gather constructive input.

At the conclusion of the COW’s discussion, commissioners debated whether Dwyer should bring his project back to the COW to gather more informal feedback before the proposal goes up for formal review before the Planning Commission.

In response to that question, Planning Commissioner Dan Cohen (7th Ward) seemed to capture the consensus of the COW, signaling his support for the project by saying “I don’t need to see it again. I think [the developers] have paid their dues.”

— Reach Aaron Rupar at arupar@mnpubs.com On Twitter at @atruparJournals.