Sebastian Joe’s owners move forward with new office building

Credit: Momentum Design Group

The owners of Sebastian Joe’s have city approval to develop property at 4353 Upton Ave. S. and 2720 W. 44th St. They are planning a three-story building with ground-floor retail topped by offices and a rooftop deck.

“We considered numerous different proposals and finally landed on this one,” said co-owner Tim Pellizzer, noting they have owned the property for 25 years. “We feel this one fits in best with our current business, which is Sebastian Joe’s, and also fits in well with the neighborhood.”

The Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit in March to allow the building height in a 4-2 vote. The building would stand three stories (39 feet), with an additional 13 feet providing elevator access to the roof. Commissioners also approved a reduction in parking requirements to allow a 12-space parking lot that serves both the new building and existing Sebastian Joe’s building next door.

Schwei, a Linden Hills resident who lives across the street, spoke at the city’s public hearing and protested the loss of lake views in her building.

Another resident said he was concerned about the precedent the height would set for the neighborhood.

Nearby property owner Dave Katzung praised the building design, which he said incorporates neighborhood building elements such as limestone, brick, Art Deco features and wrought iron pieces.

“It fits in well. And I think that’s really important. We’ve had a couple buildings that have opened up recently — they don’t fit in at all,” he said.

Another nearby resident, Lou Burg, said in a letter to the Southwest Journal that he didn’t like the notification process for the project.

“The speed this approval was rammed thru boggles the mind,” he wrote. 

The owners and the architect met with Linden Hills residents in a meeting on Feb. 16; the Planning Commission approved the project on March 16.

As part of deciding whether to recommend a conditional use permit to rise above two-and-a-half stories near the lakes, city staff said they take preservation of lake views into account — views of landmark buildings, significant open spaces or water bodies, and views from the lake.

“It’s not necessarily directed towards private views. Pretty much anywhere you put up a building it’s going to block some kind of private view. It’s meant to be more what views are significant for the public,” said Janelle Widmeier, senior city planner.

Commissioner Ben Gisselman said he understands concerns about blocked views, but said commissioners are bound by city code on what they can impose on applicants.

“Certainly with the plan for growth in this community, we have a lot of development that’s going to obstruct various views that people hold dearly. I don’t think that can be the precedent that we can set in making these kinds of decisions,” he said.