Linden Hill neighborhood leaders wrap up work on small area plan

Three stories is roughly the max height people are comfortable with in Linden Hills’ densest areas, according to the neighborhood’s small area plan that was finished in September.

While three stories is the recommended cap for commercial nodes like 43rd & Upton and 44th & Beard, there is still some wiggle room on that height at 44th & France if the development helps meet other goals in the small area plan.

Height is one of the issues tackled in a year’s worth of research and discussions by a steering committee in the Linden Hills neighborhood. The small area plan is a guide for future development over the next 20 years. The committee included architects, real estate reps, an engineer and a business owner.

Steering committee chair AaronTag said he was happy the group came to consensus on some controversial issues.

“The most intense conversations at the end were over the three-story limit concept,” said LarryLaVercombe, a real estate agent who serves as the chair of the Linden Hills Neighborhood Council’s Zoning Committee.

LaVercombe said the neighborhood wants to avoid “isolated, tallish” buildings that stick out, as well as long buildings that look like an “ocean liner on the road.”

“Two of the biggest controversies [in our neighborhood] started out looking like that,” he said, referring to the LindenCrossing Condosat 4250 Upton and the apartments proposed for 4525 France. “In both cases, they will now take up half as many city lots.”

The plan also recommends exploring the potential for local or national historic designation for individual properties and districts. The designation is designed to protect historic buildings and offer financial incentives to help owners with the upkeep. Areas that might qualify as historic districts include 43rd & Upton and 44th & Beard, where commercial development was heavily influenced by the streetcar. Historic building candidates include the fire station (now The HarrietBrasserie) and the Linden Hills Library.

“There is a real interest in trying to retain the fabric that’s here,” said Brian Schaffer, the city’s project manager.

The following are a few other recommendations in the plan:

—The plan encourages more biking and walking. The neighborhood could add plazas or pocket parks, particularly at 44th & France.

—The neighborhood could better organize its parking access by creating more shared parking agreements with businesses, and adding angled on-street parking.

—The neighborhood should add rain gardens, permeable pavers, and other measures that reduce overall resource consumption.

— The plan recommends refining the function and design of the public alleyway between Xerxes and Uptown avenues.

—The neighborhood could explore options for the “Christmas tree lot” at the northwest corner of 44th & Beard as a multi-generational gathering place. 

At a September open house, Linden Hills residents said they were interested in high-quality design, new lighting, and the capability of aging residents to stay in the neighborhood.

Regarding the recommendations on medium-density development, resident Brenda Johnson said she was concerned about the impact of any new project.

“We already have a traffic problem,” she said.

The city encourages comments on the plan, sent by Oct. 21, to Brian Schaffer at [email protected]

View the plan at www.LHSAP.org.