THE WEDGE — Plans for a new four-story, 40-unit apartment building near the heart of Uptown won the endorsement of the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association (LHENA) Feb. 18.
The Girard Avenue Apartments project is planned for Girard Avenue South between West 28th Street and the Midtown Greenway. It combines four lots, including one vacant lot and three now occupied by single-family homes all constructed between 1905 and 1913.
Daniel Perkins and Drew Levin are the developers behind the project. Perkins and Levin host the HGTV show “Renovate to Rent,” and they also founded the local Turkey to Go restaurant and food truck business.
DJR Architecture, the firm designing the apartment building, presented plans to the LHENA Zoning and Planning Committee a week before they went to the full board. Just two of about 12 neighborhood residents at that first meeting voted not to support the plan.
John and Sue Bode said they objected to the loss of the three houses, which will be demolished unless someone comes forward with a plan to move them. DJR Principal Architect and CEO Dean Dovolis said they’d give the houses for free to anyone willing to pay to haul them away.
There is precedent for neighborhood organizations taking on that job. LHENA President Leslie Foreman said she consulted with Whittier Alliance Executive Director Marian Biehn about Whittier’s experience recently moving, rehabbing and offering for sale two homes in that neighborhood.
“It’s hard to do,” Dovolis said. “Some houses can be moved, some can’t.”
Others at the Zoning and Planning Committee meeting offered praise for the building’s mix of larger units. Dovolis said the apartment would include two-, “two-plus-” and three-bedroom units designed for long-term occupancy.
The project site is just north of Flux Apartments. That greenway-fronting, 216-unit building opened in 2012.
Girard Avenue Apartments meets height and setback requirements for that area and would require no variances from the city, according to presentation by DJR. Current plans call for a building just under 46-feet tall, with a rooftop deck bringing the maximum height to nearly 54 feet.
The roof was described as the building’s main amenity. Plans call for a shared deck and garden area, as well as private rooftop spaces for several of the upper-level apartments.
“Basically, that is our building’s yard, so to speak,” Dovolis said.
The property is zoned R5, allowing for high-density, multi-family housing.
In the Uptown Small Area Plan adopted by the City Council in 2008, the area is designated an “urban village.” The plan recommends primarily mixed-use and residential development in the area and structures of three to five stories.
LHENA Board Member Sara Romanishan said she appreciated how closely the proposal hewed to the plan’s guidelines.
“It’s a quality project,” Romanishan said.
Dovolis said the units would be designed to allow for conversion to condominiums in about five years, depending on market conditions. Six of the street-level units are planned as two-story, live-work spaces.
“We’re looking at permanent quality materials in our kitchens and bathrooms and so forth,” he said.
Plans also include 55 parking stalls split between an underground garage and ground-level parking lot.
The project was on the agenda for the Feb. 26 Minneapolis Planning Commission Committee of the Whole meeting.