Apartments and retail proposed for 26th & Stevens

Credit: DJR Architecture

The owner of a vacant lot formerly home to Despatch Laundry and Whiteway Cleaners at 113 E. 26th St. is partnering with CPM Development on a new project.

The group is proposing five stories of “workforce” housing, with retail and parking on the ground floor.

The development had the option to take advantage of reduced parking requirements for new residential buildings along transit corridors, but instead it’s providing about 61 parking spots (and 60 bike racks) for the 64-unit building.

“We believe parking is needed along there,” said CPM co-founder Dan Oberpriller. CPM isn’t ready to be a market leader in eliminating parking in the corridor, he said.

The building would include studio, one and two-bedroom units. Rents would likely range from $1.55-$1.70 per square foot.

“Luxury housing can’t be everywhere,” Oberpriller said. “CPM in general is trying to work toward affordable housing that can appeal to people making $28,000-$65,000.”

The design is still in development. At a recent meeting in the Whittier neighborhood, DJR Architecture presented a drawing with a white brick base and a mix of gray and light paneling.

DJR Principal Scott Nelson said the building takes design cues from the nearby Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and would likely be lit with colored lights at night.

“It’s a real modern design,” he said.

Residents and business owners in attendance at the Whittier meeting in July suggested electric vehicle charging stations, a splashier design statement and a rooftop deck — Oberpriller said they would take all of those suggestions.

“You’re speaking our language,” he said.

“Coming over the 26th Street bridge, this is going to be a focal point. Give it a focal point,” said Marian Biehn, executive director of the Whittier Alliance.

“Go ahead and make it weird,” said Erica Christ of the Black Forest Inn.

Others suggested sculpture, more color and street art.

“I think you’re underestimating the neighborhood in terms of design, character and cost,” Biehn said.

Christ requested larger units. She said families are desperate to find larger apartments in the neighborhood. She also suggested that the neighborhood could handle higher-priced rents.

Developer Ed Bell said the environmental cleanup has been complete for a number of years, and now they will empty charcoal canisters into bags for transport to a site in Pennsylvania. A blower comparable to a radon mitigation system would be installed, he said, and a ground floor of parking and retail would stand as a buffer between residences and the soil.

The project would need city approval for exceeding the floor area ratio and standing higher than four stories at the corner.

Pending city approval, the project would break ground in the fall.