Linden Corner project moving ahead

LINDEN HILLS — Developers behind the controversial Linden Corner development got a critical series of approvals from the Minneapolis Planning Commission on Tuesday night, but residents who oppose the proposal vowed to continue fighting the proposal.
The most significant decision by the commission was to grant a request from the developers to construct a 59-foot, five-story building, rather than be limited by zoning rules that restrict construction on the site to three stories and 42 feet.

A group of neighborhood residents and business owners have objected to the request because they say the building’s scale is out of character with the commercial hub, and create traffic concerns in the surrounding area.

The lot targeted for development, at 43rd and Upton Avenue, currently houses a Famous Dave’s restaurant, a pocket park and surface parking lots. The proposal calls for 40 one- to three-bedroom condominiums, six retail spaces, a restaurant and an office space.

Plans also include a patio area and 135 parking spaces, primarily in an underground lot that will be partially dedicated to residents.  

To address concerns about the scale of the building, developer and longtime neighborhood resident Mark Dwyer, agreed to create setbacks for the fourth- and fifth-floors of the buildings, reducing their visibility from the street level.

Commissioners said that concession, along with the fact that there are other buildings of a similar size in the area, was enough for them to give the project their blessing.

“We have to recognize that we have chosen to live in a city, and that it is a dense environment,” planning commission president David Motzenbecker said.

The only commissioner to oppose the project was Gary Schiff, who also sits on the City Council. Schiff expressed concerns about traffic impacts and said he was “honestly surprised” that the zoning code even allowed such a project to be considered in an area like Linden Hills.

Before the commission voted, a group of 30 residents – 16 in favor and 13 opposed – spent nearly two hours providing testimony about the merits of the proposal.

Proponents said the building would help create a sustainable community in which residents would not have to rely on vehicles and fill a housing need in the area.

Opponents, including many longtime neighborhood residents, said developers had failed to show willingness to compromise or engage residents and repeatedly reiterated their concerns about the building’s scale.

Those concerns did not subside after the commission’s decision, and residents said they would continue to fight the project.

Opponents have up to 10 days to file an appeal to the City Council. If they do, the City Council will be asked to make a final decision on the developer’s requests.

Jane Prince, an attorney representing residents who have fought the proposal, said a decision to appeal is likely.