Linden Crossing site changes hands at 43rd & Upton

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Investors aligned with a developer who spent years planning the Linden Crossing condominiums did not close on the project site at 4264 Upton Ave. S.

The investors “did not buy the parcel due to complications inside their group,” developer Mark Dwyer said in an email.

“Opponents had said their ongoing efforts would serve to delay and derail the project. In the end, the strategy worked,” he said. “Construction costs have spiked and over half of the grant funding was recently lost for clean up of contaminated soils.”

A group that includes Clark Gassen, developer of The Walkway apartments and Edgewater condominiums in Uptown, is purchasing the Famous Dave’s lot, according to Council Member Linea Palmisano, who learned of the transaction from Dwyer. Gassen did not immediately respond for comment.

“The fact that another development group has quickly purchased the property speaks to the great potential at this corner. We will try to support them,” Dwyer said.

The Planning Commission approved a revised four-story design for Linden Crossing in July, submitted after a yearlong moratorium on new development while the Linden Hills neighborhood created a “small area plan” to lay out a vision for the area. In August, the City Council denied an appeal filed by project opponents.

Dwyer said he’s grateful to his team, condo buyers and supporters.

“I’m not blaming others, but the delays were a big factor,” Dwyer said. “We held on as long as possible and worked really hard to make this turn out differently. But that’s life. We’ve learned a lot and are grateful for the opportunity.”

Palmisano said rising construction costs were exacerbated by a local cement shortage amid all the construction activity underway in Minneapolis.

Dwyer said the project lost $174,000 in cleanup grant funding for the site, a former gas station. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development originally awarded the money years ago, Palmisano said.

“At some point, they will cut you off,” she said. “That was the last linchpin, and it changed some parameters of the project. They lost the ability to close on the property. … The seller decided to entertain a competing offer.”

Palmisano said Dwyer continues to own the neighboring Edward Jones office lot at 4250 Upton. Dwyer did not comment on whether he plans to sell the lot to the new development group.

Dwyer holds a right-of-way excavation permit that obligates him to restore the pocket park at 43rd & Upton. Dwyer’s team disassembled the park late last year to prepare for environmental remediation, and relocated trees to Beard’s Plaisance. In a recent letter to Palmisano, Dwyer said he would “coordinate with the city and site owner to restore the pocket park in a timely manner.”

Palmisano said the new purchasers have not yet reached out to her office, and she doesn’t know their plans.

“My hope is that whatever comes next gives the property the gas remediation it so desperately needs,” she said. “I’m not quite sure what’s going to happen.”