Project proposed next to Linden Hills Sebastian Joe’s moves ahead

The owners of the Linden Hills Sebastian Joe's are planning a three-story building next to their ice cream shop. Credit: File image

A City Council committee has denied an appeal objecting to the Linden Hills Sebastian Joe’s owners plans to build a three-story building next to their ice cream shop. 

A group called Residents Protecting the Shoreland Overlay appealed the Minneapolis Planning Commission’s March 16 decision to approve the Pellizzer brothers’ request for a conditional use permit to move ahead with the project at 44th & Upton.

The Shoreland Overlay District calls for buildings with a maximum height of two and a half stories near bodies of water, but developers can apply for conditional use permits to build taller.

Opponents of the project said the building is too tall for the area, inconsistent with the neighborhood’s character and would create a parking shortage at the hearing before the Council’s Zoning & Planning Committee meeting on Thursday.

Council committee members, however, unanimously voted to deny the appeal. The full City Council will vote on the matter April 17.

City Council Member Lisa Goodman (Ward 7) said there’s precedent throughout the city for allowing taller buildings near lakes.

“Change is inevitable in the city,” she said, adding Linden Hills isn’t immune from change either.

The Pellizzer brothers have proposed a building with retail, office space and a rooftop patio for tenants.

Mike Pellizzer said some of the prospective tenants live in the Linden Hills neighborhood and like the idea of skipping a commute. He said retail spaces would be less than 1,000 square feet.

“This footprint allows for many small or startup businesses an opportunity to participate in Linden Hills,” he said. “We would like to provide small business owners the same opportunity we had 30 years ago.”

An online petition to “Help protect the Shoreland Overlay” has gathered more than 100 signatures.

“This building would only exacerbate the problem of too-tall buildings in the Shoreland Overlay,” said Schwei, who would live across the street from the proposed building. “Exceptions should be rare.”

Linden Hills resident Constance Pepin said she recognizes that zoning laws permit exceptions to the height limits, but said an elevator to a rooftop deck for a handful of tenants isn’t a compelling reason to do so.

“I’m very discouraged to hear some of the committee members talk as though, ‘Gee we’re busting through the Shoreland Overlay heights all over the city, so what’s the big deal?'” she said.

New development proposals in Linden Hills often face a tough vetting. A large group of neighbors mobilized against a condo proposal called Linden Crossing at 44th & Upton. That project is no longer moving forward and another owner has control of the site. 

Goodman repeatedly stressed that the Shoreland Overlay is not a strict height limit, and developers can meet conditions to build taller. When determining whether to allow extra height, city officials weigh factors including the potential for soil erosion or pollution, and the visibility of structures from the water. Other conditions relate to access to light and air; shadowing; the scale and character of the surrounding area; and preservation of views of landmark buildings, open spaces or water bodies. City staff have said the criteria on views primarily relate to public rather than private views.

“Where I sit I don’t think this building is too tall,” Goodman said. “This does not seem to be a difficult decision. … And as long as they meet the code requirement I don’t think we have the ability to tell them no.”

 

— Michelle Bruch contributed to this report