Apartments slated for vacant lot at 3601 Nicollet

3601 Nicollet Ave.

An affordable housing developer is planning to build about 50 apartments and ground-floor retail on a vacant lot at the southeast corner of 36th & Nicollet.

Aeon is planning apartments of about 350-550 square feet, primarily efficiency and one-bedroom units, with estimated rents at $600-$1,200. The developer is considering a project of at least four stories, perhaps with a fifth floor stepped back to provide a rooftop deck.

James Lehnhoff, Aeon’s vice president of housing development, said Aeon has noticed a market trend in smaller units, and they’re planning “compact but well-designed spaces.”

“There is a huge need for affordable and quality apartments in the Twin Cities area,” he said.

The average rent rate in Southwest Minneapolis is $1,045, and the vacancy rate is 1.5 percent, according to 2015 fourth quarter data provided by Maxfield Research.

The commercial space would encompass about 2,000 square feet.

“It’s a very attractive spot to be at,” Lehnhoff said.

Enclosed parking would stand on the first floor of the building. Underground parking is not possible, Lehnhoff said, due to the site’s history as a gas station. The amount of parking isn’t finalized, but it would not be a one-to-one ratio, he said. New city rules eliminate or reduce parking requirements for new residences within a quarter mile of frequent bus transit or a half mile from rail.

Lehnhoff said Aeon took over the project about a month ago from the prior developer, Alan Hupp, who had approached Aeon to partner on the project. Aeon now owns the site at 3601 Nicollet Ave. The neighboring Nicollet Auto Services building is not part of current plans, Lehnhoff said.

A prior development team included Tom Streitz of Twin Cities R!se and Alan Hupp, who presented plans to the Kingfield Neighborhood Association last summer for workforce housing with 35 market-rate and 22 affordable units.

Hupp secured a Minneapolis affordable housing trust fund loan of $550,000 last fall, which will stay with the project.

Lehnhoff said Aeon would be a long-term owner, and said the 30-year-old nonprofit oversees 2,500 apartments in the metro.

“Aeon manages its own properties, and we expect to be there for decades,” he said.

Pending city approval, construction is expected to begin a year from now.