Cedar-Isles-Dean neighbors consider West Lake apartment height

Rendering of a 13-story design for 3100 W. Lake St. Image courtesy of ESG Architects.

A developer is proposing to build 200 apartment units at 3100 W. Lake St., and the shape the building will take is still in question.

Brickstone Partners has prepared design options rising six stories (with rooftop amenities peaking at 76 feet), nine stories (with an elevator overrun at 116 feet) or 13 stories (reaching 150 feet).

3100 - 6 story ACROSS STREET
Six-story design option.
Nine-story design option.
Nine-story design option.

The building would rise where the Lake Pointe Corporate Center stands today, a building recognizable for its giant Adirondack chairs and office tenants like the Associated Clinic of Psychology.

Feedback from residents at a recent public hearing in Cedar-Isles-Dean was split between the tallest building, which would give its neighbors the most green space and breathing room, or the shortest building, which would rise roughly in line with the Loop Calhoun Condos next door.

The Cedar-Isles-Dean Neighborhood Association (CIDNA) Land Use and Development committee had preliminarily opposed all three options, seeking a 15 percent reduction in floor area and larger setbacks from Lake Street and the Loop.

Dan Otis of Brickstone said he isn’t likely to waver from 200 units, however.

“That’s a fundamental economic tipping point for us,” he said.

“I think you’re trying to build too many units,” nearby resident Mark Scally said at a Jan. 26 neighborhood meeting.

Mike Elson of the Lake Calhoun Sailing School and Yacht Club said a tall building would impact winds on the lake, making it a challenge to teach kids to sail. If no one puts a lid on development, the lake would eventually look like Central Park, he said.

Some meeting attendees saw benefit in a taller tower, however.

Anhthi Tran said the 13-story concept would affect neighbors the least, offering them more privacy and a bigger buffer of green space.

“I really do think if we can get a high-quality building in there, I think it’s worth considering granting that variance for a 13-story tower,” he said to applause.

“Where we limit height, that density does have to go somewhere,” said Leo Zabezhinsky, a Loop Calhoun Condominium Association board member.

He noted that the developer Trammell Crow, which has a project under construction on the other side of the Loop, initially proposed a taller building. Following neighborhood pushback, he said, the developer moved forward with a six-story plan that pushed the building “right to our doorstep.” Some think the close proximity has contributed to damage at the Loop, he said.

Initial six- and nine-story design options set portions of the structure 30 feet from the Loop, according to CIDNA.

“The farther away they are, the less potential for damage,” Zabezhinsky said.

Entry view of the six-story design.
Entry view of the six-story design.

Resident Nadine Emerson said residents of the Loop are holding the bag for $1.8 million in damages sustained after the Foundry began construction at 3118 W. Lake St.  The issue is in litigation.

Otis said the company is looking at non-vibratory methods for excavation. He said the developer is also working on a written agreement with the Loop’s condominium association.

“There is a statutory requirement that we take care of you guys,” he said.

Traffic was a major point of concern for residents at the meeting.

“This is almost like Déjà vu for me,” said one resident. She recalled objections in 2014 over the Foundry’s impact on traffic safety, shortly after which a pedestrian crossing the street at Market Plaza and Lake Street was hit by a truck and killed. She said Dean Parkway is a tiny street that’s bumper-to-bumper every morning.

Scally said vehicles traveling down Lake Street can reach upwards of 50 miles per hour, and he said unless drivers are very alert they would risk hitting cars entering and exiting the apartments.

Richard Logan, who has spent time documenting traffic issues in the neighborhood, said he’s documented 5-6 close calls per hour at Dean & Lake during the evening rush hour, with 80 people per hour visibly using their cell phones while driving.

Otis said the current office generates more traffic than is obvious to passersby, with lots of patients and customers traveling in and out throughout the day.

Ed Terhaar of Wenck presented the preliminary results of a travel demand management plan, which showed that morning peak hours at the office today total 109 trips exiting and entering, compared to the apartments projected to see 102 trips. The evening peak hour is 108 trips for the current office and projected at 124 for the apartments, he said.

Parking offered at 1.5 stalls per unit would stand in two floors below grade above the water table.

The project site lies west of the 20-story Lake Point Condominiums, which were built in 1977, and the 12-story Calhoun Beach Club Apartments, built in 1999. The Lakes Residences luxury apartment project recently completed at 2622 W. Lake St. reaches eight stories.

Residents concerned about height near the lakes pressed the city to enact the Shoreland Overlay District in 1988, which requires a conditional use permit to build above 2.5 stories within 1,000 feet of the water.

Lake Point Condominiums resident Pat Murphy submitted a statement referencing the Shoreland Overlay.

“I was told by my Realtor there would NEVER be a blockage of my view because of the city ordinance of 2.5 stories,” she said. “…Why have a city ordinance when someone with money can come in [and] ask for a modification that will not be in the best interest of any of the population around that building and perhaps be granted that modification?”

The Planning Commission can choose to grant permits for additional height if commissioners conclude the project will not be detrimental to public health, not be injurious to the enjoyment of surrounding property, the utilities and drainage are adequate, measures are taken to minimize traffic congestion, measures are taken to prevent soil erosion, and other factors.

Some residents wondered about the pace of leasing at The Lakes Residences. Although a press release issued last summer said rents start at $4,000, the project website now lists floor plans starting at $2,275 for a one-bedroom, 865-square-foot unit. A two-bedroom, 3,968-square-foot penthouse rents for $14,553.

Otis said vacancy rates are under 3 percent in the area, and Minneapolis is one of the country’s most stable rental markets, thanks in part to all the local job generators.

In response to some residents who said they would prefer condos, Otis said that in recent years developers have found it difficult to manage the risks associated with developing condominiums. Legislation gives developers unlimited liability lasting 10 years for any construction defects, he said.

Entry view of the 13-story design.
Entry view of the 13-story design.

The rents at 3100 W. Lake would likely range from $2.20-$2.60 per square foot, Otis said, or $1,800 or $2,000 per month. Land costs drive the rent price, he said.