Sebastian Joe’s aims to build a new neighbor in Linden Hills

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The owners of Sebastian Joe’s want to build on property they own at 44th & Upton next to their shop.

“We’ve been in the neighborhood for 25 years, and we’ve always had intentions of doing something at the corner,” said co-owner Tim Pellizzer.

The Pellizzer brothers are planning to expand the patio next to the ice cream shop and build a three-story building with first-floor retail, two floors of office space, and a rooftop patio for tenants.

“There is very little office space in that area,” Pellizzer said. “It’s for people who no longer want to drive to Downtown Minneapolis.”

The site includes 4353 Upton Ave. and 2720 W. 44th St., where a surface parking lot and duplex stand today.

The first floor would be lowered by about four-and-a-half feet to reduce the building height. The resulting height is 39 feet, with a parapet for an elevator shaft reaching more than 52 feet. The city must grant a conditional use permit to build over 35 feet on the site.  

Some residents who learned of the project at a recent Linden Hills neighborhood meeting worried about the impact on parking. The project would need a city variance for its parking plan — the current lot holds eight stalls, the city would require 17 stalls for the new project, and the owners are proposing 12. The project would remove a couple of existing driveways and therefore add three on-street parking spaces, which doesn’t factor into the city’s parking requirements.

Linden Hills Zoning Committee member Constance Pepin said new on-street spaces would somewhat ameliorate the situation.

“The city doesn’t really assess how much strain new retail puts on the neighborhood,” she said.

David Smith and a few other residents said there wouldn’t be nearly enough parking for new employees. Nearby condominiums charge extra for parking, Smith said, so their residents park on the street. And new restaurants like the one opening in the Bayers Hardware building will add parking pressure, he said.

Not everyone in attendance agreed, however. One resident said she didn’t think the new building would rob parking from other businesses, and said there is lots of walking and biking traffic during the summer.

A woman who goes by the name Schwei and lives across the street said she’s worried that the controversy surrounding the nearby Famous Dave’s development site is beginning on this site as well.

“Which one of these is not like the other?” she said. “Not only do I lose my view, but I lose part of what makes Linden Hills so special.”

The project is tentatively scheduled to go before the city Planning Commission March 16.