Planning Commission moves Rex 26 development forward

Rezoning, variance applications approved in 8-1 vote

The Rex 26 project would include 77 apartment units and a first-floor grocery store. Photo courtesy the city of Minneapolis

The Minneapolis Planning Commission on Monday approved nine applications for a proposed apartment and grocery project at the southeast corner of 26th & Lyndale.

The commission voted 8-1 to approve the applications for Rex 26, a five-story, four-floor building that would include 77 apartments and a 20,000 square-foot retail space.

Applications included two to rezone the site to allow for a broader range of retail and commercial services and car-related uses. They also included one to allow for a five-story, 62-foot building in the new zoning district.

The building would include a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments along with 152 parking spaces in two floors of underground parking. Cars would access the site from Lyndale Avenue South and exit onto West 26th Street. Trucks would exit through the public alley.

Minneapolis-based Master Properties is the developer for the project.

The Planning Commission Committee of the Whole reviewed the project twice this year. Master Properties eliminated a floor, reduced the overall floor area, modified the building shape and more as a result of the committee’s feedback.

Area property owners voiced concern about the project on Monday. They raised issues such as the building’s size, increased traffic and the building negatively affecting the character of the neighborhood.

Garfield Avenue property owner Peter Robinson said the project would destroy the alley that runs parallel to Lyndale Avenue, adding that he’s concerned about pedestrian safety on 26th Street.

“This doesn’t seem to be thought out in terms of how its footprint fits with the rest of the neighborhood,” he said. “It’s much too big a building for the appearance of the rest of the neighborhood, and the traffic is going to be horrendous.”

Common Roots Café owner Danny Schwartzman said the proposal is much better than it was before the revisions but said he is concerned about traffic and a single tenant taking up that much square footage in the retail space.

Commission and City Council member Lisa Bender said adding 77 new housing units in a neighborhood that has a tight housing market is a good thing. She said she was impressed with the improvement of the project since the August meeting, but said it was “too bad” that the developer has not yet brought the revised project to the Whittier and Lowry Hill East neighborhood associations.

Commissioner Amy Sweasy voted against the proposal. She said she was particularly concerned that the neighborhood groups did not see the latest iteration of the project.