A development team is working to convince the neighbors of Tryg’s Restaurant at 3118 W. Lake St. to support an apartment tower and public park in its place.
Trammell Crow Co. has offered design alternatives for either an 11-story or six-story structure with 177 units.
The developers said they’re pushing for the taller 129-foot tower option, however, which would allow them space for a new park fronting the Midtown Greenway. They recently drew up a six-story alternative at the neighborhood’s request in which the structure would cover the entire site.
“We believe this project will be successful,” said Trammell Crow Principal Grady Hamilton, saying he thinks there is demand for more apartments in the area. Trammell Crow would work to capture rents at the top end of the market.
If a future streetcar line blocks the apartments’ access to the Greenway, Trammel Crow is also interested in a new bicycle and pedestrian path that could connect to the potential West Lake station.
The Truelson family that owns the property would continue to operate a restaurant attached to the apartments. The new restaurant concept would drop to half of Tryg’s current size, perhaps focus on small plates, and feature a larger outdoor patio. An amenity deck for residents would stand on the restaurant roof.
Residents of nearby buildings like the Loop Calhoun Condos packed a Jan. 6 meeting on the project, despite the night’s frigid minus 13 degree temp. One primary issue of concern related to traffic. The building would provide 236 parking spots for apartments, primarily located underneath the building, with another 50 spots for the restaurant.
“During certain times of day, we’re held hostage by the traffic in our neighborhood,” said resident Stacia Goodman. She said it’s become too dangerous for her kids to cross Lake Street.
“I would like to hear you acknowledge that you are exacerbating the issue,” she said.
Trammell Crow commissioned a traffic study of the site. Consultant Mike Spack said the congestion is a regional problem that would require a huge public investment to fix. To improve the situation at the Tryg’s site, he proposed mounted pylons that would block drivers from attempting a left turn exit onto Lake Street.
Spack said that given the high volume of cars on the roadway — 40,000 trips per day, according to Hamilton— the new impact on traffic wouldn’t amount to much.
“We aren’t even adding minutes of delay,” he said.
Another issue of contention related to the size of the new building. The site’s zoning calls for a height maximum of 56 feet (5 stories). A portion of the site is in the Shoreland Overlay District, which has a height maximum of 35 feet (two-and-a-half stories) to prevent negative impact to the lakes.
The developer needs city approval to exceed the site’s height limits. But the unit count is within the limit for density.
An ESG staffer at the neighborhood meeting provided a computer simulation of neighbors’ potential views of the tower and adjacent park.
Some responded positively to the new views, such as Russ Palma of the nearby Calhoun Isles Condos.
“It’s a higher-quality building with a green space amenity,” he said of the 11-story scheme. “The [existing] ugly pile of dirt and leaves has not been a joy and a beauty.”
Others wondered if the tower could go even higher, to provide less of a visual barrier.
“Airy height seems better than girthy width,” said Jeffrey Peltola.*
Some residents worried about the impact of the building mass.
“An 11-story building would pretty much take away the sky for about 40 units [of the Loop],” said resident Nadine Emerson. “A pocket park is no compensation for the loss of the sky.”
ESG Architect Aaron Roseth said the Truelson family had been approached by five developers prior to Trammell Crow.
Trammell Crow is a wholly-owned subsidiary of CBRE, with a Midwest division based in Chicago. The company’s local projects include the six-story Junction Flats, located across from the Fulton Brewery in the North Loop, opening in June. The company is also building the six-story Arcata apartments in Golden Valley, which will open in October 2014.
A purchase agreement for the West Lake site is pending, contingent on project approval. Roseth said they’re aiming to achieve city approval in the coming months, and construction would span about 15 months.
The Cedar-Isles-Dean Neighborhood Land Use & Development Committee expects to make a recommendation on the project in late January, followed by a potential decision by the full CIDNA board on Feb. 12.
CIDNA provides detailed project information at http://cidnalanduse.wordpress.com/
*Note: This story has been updated to remove an assertion of disagreement between speakers.