Theatre Garage developer scraps rooftop park idea

Credit: Submitted image

After public vetting, developers are dropping plans for a rooftop park above a parking garage at the southwest corner of Lyndale & Franklin.

Master Properties Project Coordinator Elizabeth Liebhard said the change comes in response to neighbors’ concerns about privacy, noise and safety. In addition, the developer heard objections from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

“We have real concerns about something accessed through the building to get to the roof,” said Park Board Commissioner Liz Wielinski (District 1).

She said the Park Board was not interested in allowing a rooftop park to offset the project’s “park dedication fee,” which is a new charge that helps pay for city parks. In most of Minneapolis, a park is less than six blocks away, she said. As Minneapolis’ population grows, she said, the Park Board is primarily concerned with investing in the parks it already has.

Instead of installing solar panels in the park as previously planned, solar panels would stand on a lid of the parking structure.

Master has redesigned the project to address other neighborhood issues as well.

In response to concerns about the parking structure’s western wall as too bulky and high, Liebhard said they dropped the height by 11 feet. A stair tower in the center of the building has also dropped 11 feet. The western edge of the parking garage now sits an additional three feet from the property line, she said.

Green vines and plantings would climb the 208-stall parking garage’s concrete panels.

Varied building materials would break up the structure along Lyndale, Liebhard said, to address concerns about the building appearing too long.

A new bike hub on Lyndale would offer air, vending machines and tire patch kits to bikers.

Steeple People, the thrift shop currently on the corner, has found a few relocation possibilities, and staff said they hope to stay in the neighborhood. The shop has not determined a closing date.

“We’re using this time to clean our closets,” said Gail Onan, executive director for store transition.

Another corner tenant, One 21 Barbershop, has not yet found a new location.

New project designs provide a sidewalk to The Movement Minneapolis, which has a door fronting the parking lot at 2100-B Lyndale Ave. S.

Liebhard said she’s not ready to announce potential tenants in the new development, though they are speaking to a restaurant.

“We’re not looking at starting construction this summer,” Liebhard said. “But we will be starting as soon as possible.”

Council Member Lisa Bender (10th Ward) said in a Facebook post that she’s recommending that the project return to the Planning Commission Committee of the Whole for further review.* She expressed concern about a recent Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association meeting where she said one perspective dominated the discussion and attendees were “openly hostile” to a few renters in attendance.

“I will be working on both short and long term ways to engage more voices in a more constructive dialogue about development proposals,” she said in the post. “Redevelopment at this corner is consistent with all of our adopted plans, and I’m committed to working with everyone to get the best possible result for our community.”

The developer had not yet submitted a formal proposal to the city in mid-March. The project would need special city approval for the southern and western setbacks, a 25 percent increase in the floor area ratio, 60 extra “district” parking spaces for the public, a six-story height on the corner, and rezoning for the entire site to match the corner’s C2 zoning. 


*Note: This story has been changed to clarify that Lisa Bender is recommending that the project return to the Planning Commission Committee of the Whole. The next steps are up to the developer.