Solhem proposes micro unit apartments near Lake & Holmes

Rendering by Momentum Design Group

Solhem Companies is proposing a six-story apartment filled with “micro units” at 3009-3013 Holmes Ave.

The apartment sizes would range from about 380-850 square feet and would lease at about $1,200-$2,000 per month. The project would include 71 units, with 39 parking stalls in one level underground and a half level above ground.

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The project’s design would include extensive glass and balconies to create an indoor-outdoor environment.

“We’ve only built in pedestrian zones, and each rendition is more transparent,” developer Curt Gunsbury said. “…You can literally be in your living room and outside at the same time.”

He said the rooftop would be available for residents, with “ponding” roof features like moss to handle stormwater.

Gunsbury described the site’s current commercial buildings as two of the ugliest lots in the neighborhood. The new project would stand between the existing six-story Solhem apartments on Holmes and the Jon English Hairspa building on Lake.

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“We really don’t see this as part of Holmes Avenue, we see this as part of Lake Street,” Gunsbury said. “It’s part of the vibrancy of Lake Street.”

He said the Sons of Norway building would likely be torn down for redevelopment in the coming years, to be replaced by a high-density project.

“We want this building to interact with that building,” Gunsbury said. “That’s what we’re designing it to face.”

At a recent community meeting in East Calhoun, some residents objected to the height of the project, citing the precedent the height might set for the Sons of Norway site.

“All of a sudden we’re looking at eight stories in the middle of our neighborhood,” said Lee Todd.

The site’s zoning allows four stories or 56 feet, and the city can grant a conditional use permit to build higher. In this case, the developer is seeking a main roof height of about 74 feet, with an elevator overrun that reaches about 90 feet.

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Resident Peggy Melbye said she lives nearby in the “beautiful” 3021 Holmes Ave South Apartments originally developed by Solhem and later sold to Laramar. She said she’s concerned about the proposed height and the traffic it would generate.

“People have cars, even if they [only] use them on a weekend,” she said.

Gunsbury said at another of his projects with 48 units and 30 parking stalls, two parking spaces remained untaken after the project was leased up.

“We think it will work out just fine,” he said.

Solhem typically charges monthly rates of $150-$175 per stall, and some residents suggested tenants are opting to park on the street rather than pay the charge.

Gunsbury noted that new city regulations don’t require any parking in new development near high-frequency transit.

Solhem has developed other micro unit buildings in Minneapolis, including Nolo Flats in the North Loop and Coze Flats in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood.

Gunsbury said the appeal of micro units goes beyond young people.

“Because they’re so small, a lot of people are using them as a second space,” he said.

He noted a doctor in Rochester rents one of his micro units to spend weekends in Minneapolis.

The developer is not seeking to rezone the site to allow more density.

The project would require city approval for a floor area ratio increase from 3.24 allowed by ordinance up to 4.64. The project is also seeking side and rear yard setbacks.

Pending city approval, the developer would aim to begin construction in the spring.

Additional project information is available at