France Avenue Apartments shrink again

The Carlston Group is responding to neighborhood criticism by shrinking a proposed apartment building’s footprint at 4525 France Ave. S., raising the height in the process.

“We did some soul searching after we met last time,” said architect Bob Loken, speaking to the Linden Hills Neighborhood Council (LHiNC). “The building was simply too large, and didn’t provide enough transition [to the residential neighborhood].”

The prior proposal would have stretched mid-block to the southeast corner at 46th & France, covering four parcels of land. The current proposal covers only two properties, leaving the two southernmost apartment buildings intact.

The prior proposed height was 46 feet; the current proposed height is 50 feet or four stories.

“Because the site was reduced, in order to be a viable building it needs to have that additional height,” Loken said.

The new proposal is also set closer to France Avenue, providing a larger buffer from the alley.

The building would include 32 units and 40 enclosed parking stalls.

A roomful of residents heard the pitch at a September LHiNC meeting.

“The height and mass are still problematic for us,” said Mike Gair, a vocal critic of the project who lives nearby. “If you followed the city’s comprehensive plan, you would end up with a slightly smaller project and one I think we’d be able to support.”

Another meeting attendee said Linden Hills’ small area plan will call for three-story height caps in most of the neighborhood.

LHiNC’s Zoning Committee voted “not to oppose” the former project proposal in May. The current iteration will return for that committee’s consideration Sept. 23.