Dupont apartment project hits a roadblock

The National Park Service wants to make sure a proposed apartment project at 29th & Dupont doesn’t impede views of the historic Buzza tower on Lake Street. Credit: Photo by Michelle Bruch

Plans are in limbo for a six-story apartment tower at 29th & Dupont, as the National Park Service raises concerns about access to a historic tunnel and blocked views of the existing Buzza tower.

The proposed six-story project by Dominium Development would create 130 apartments on the surface parking lot next to the Buzza building.

Natascha Wiener, senior design reviewer at the State Historic Preservation Office, said the Park Service did not object to development of the site in general. But staff expressed concern about a tunnel on the site built in 1913. The tunnel connects the Midtown Greenway to the Buzza parking lot underneath 29th Street.

 “They did object to partial demolition of the tunnel, and loss of access to the greenway through that tunnel,” Wiener said. “They also felt the building was potentially too tall, and encroached upon the Buzza building itself.”

Dominium originally proposed knockout panels in the parking garage, so they could be punched out in the future for tunnel access related to any future transit use. The tunnel is currently roped off with a chain link fence.

“The city and county said they wanted the tunnel to remain closed,” said Chris Barnes, Dominium vice president. “This has never been on the table before.”

Barnes said Dominium is evaluating options that would be palatable to the Park Service.

“We’ll look at underwriting to see if the project works at a lower density,” he said. “It’s pretty close.”

He said it’s possible Dominium would shelve the project.

The National Park Service is involved in the project because Dominium recently renovated the Buzza tower into affordable apartments, securing historic tax credits to complete the work. Wiener said a five-year recapture period is in place, so the Internal Revenue Service can reclaim funds if Dominium does not continue meeting the historic standards.

“If in five years, Dominium wants to go ahead as is, the Park Service does not have a say,” Wiener said.