Neighborhood may be warming to Lyndale and Franklin proposal

Four months after a contentious meeting in the Wedge, the Theater Garage and Marquee Apartments developer is back with a redesigned building

THE WEDGE — Developer Don Gerberding is trimming bulk from the six-story mixed-use building he’s proposing for the intersection of Lyndale and Franklin avenues, but it comes at the cost of higher apartment rents.

Gerberding’s Master Properties team reduced the number of residential units and cut an entire level of parking from the design for the Theater Garage and Marquee Apartments project. The height of the building and shadowing of nearby single-family homes were both concerns raised at a contentious meeting with Wedge neighborhood residents earlier this year, and Gerberding tabled the project for several months of retooling.

Gerberding got a warmer reception Wednesday evening on a return visit to the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association’s Zoning and Planning Committee meeting. The new design moved the tallest parts of the building toward the street and away from the row of Aldrich Avenue homes and apartment buildings just west of the project.

The rear of the building will still be just 7 feet off the property line for most of its length and fewer than 4 feet along a shorter stretch, and the reduced setback will require a variance. But according to Master Properties’ estimates, there will be close to 100 feet of open air between the tallest parts of the building and the homes on Aldrich.

Gerberding said the four-story, 161-stall parking ramp’s façade was designed to block headlights from shining into neighboring homes, and openings will be covered with screens. Those screens will eventually serve as a trellis in a “green wall” similar to the one growing on MoZaic, Ackerberg Group’s 10-story mixed-use project closer to the heart of Uptown.

Gerberding didn’t escape the meeting without hearing at least one resident complain about the height of the building, but there was more praise for his response to community concerns. Some of those compliments were tempered by unease at the projected $2-per-square-foot rate for the apartments, a mix of mainly one- and some two-bedroom units.

Most measure around 600–625 square feet, meaning they’ll rent for $1,200 per month or more. Gerberding said the parking garage “subsidized” lower rents in the original design, and those rents had to go up when the building slimmed down.

In the current design, cars enter the ramp via curb cuts on both Lyndale and Franklin avenues. Wary of adding congestion to the intersection, several committee members said they’re eager to see the results of a not-yet-completed traffic study.

The site at the southwest corner of the Lyndale-Franklin intersection currently contains several small commercial buildings, a surface parking lot and the Theater Garage, which will find a new home on the first floor of the new building. Anchoring the corner is a 7,300-square-foot restaurant space, and a tiny “pocket park” will separate the apartment lobby from the retail space fronting Lyndale Avenue.

In addition to the setback variance, Gerberding is seeking a variance to increase the proportion of compact vehicle stalls in the ramp. There will be 32 total.

The project also requires conditional use permits for the parking structure and height. The maximum allowed height is 56 feet, but Gerberding’s building will rise 73 feet, 6 inches at the corner.

He’ll also request a rezoning of the site to C2. The land is currently split between C1 and C2 zoning.