44th Street condo appeal set for Thursday

Developer wants permit for four-story condo near Lake Harriet

A rendering of a proposed four-story condo building near Lake Harriet. Rendering courtesy City of Minneapolis

A Linden Hills developer is appealing the City Planning Commission’s decision to grant a conditional use permit for a proposed condo at one floor lower than he requested.

Developer John Gross is asking the City Council Zoning & Planning Committee to allow for a four-story condo building on 44th Street in Linden Hills. The Planning Commission on Oct. 16 approved a permit to allow for a three-story building, following a city staff report that recommended three stories to ensure the proposed building would be compatible with the “scale and character” of the surrounding area.

In an interview, Gross said a three-story project would not be economically viable. He said a lot of effort went into the design of the building, noting that the condo would be bundled with a single-family home on the site.

“We believe it’s a reasonable request,” he said of granting the permit to allow for four stories.

In the appeal, an attorney for Gross, Carol Lansing, argued that the project as proposed at four stories meets the required findings for granting the conditional use permit for height. The proposed development would complement existing uses in the area, she wrote, and wouldn’t negatively impact access to light and air of surrounding properties.

The building would have limited visibility from the lake, she wrote, and would blend in with surrounding development to the extent it would be visible.

Gross’ condo as proposed would include eight units and a 16-space underground parking garage. The site would also include a 10-space, surface-level parking lot, the single-family home and shared outdoor space. The project would be called Eight on 44th.

The project has generated pushback from neighbors. More than 55 people have written to city officials to express concerns about or opposition to the granting of the conditional use permit for height. The Linden Hills Neighborhood Council Zoning & Housing Committee and the East Calhoun Community Organization Livability Committee each voted to oppose granting the permit.

Six residents voiced concerns about the project at the Oct. 16 Planning Commission meeting. They noted potential tree loss and argued that the condo would tower over nearby homes and peek over the tree line and that the project would violate the intent of the shoreland overlay zoning district.

Several residents also noted that the condo would appear to be five stories, since the lower level, which doesn’t count as a story, is at sidewalk level.

Gross also needed a conditional use permit for the single-family home and condo to be on the same site, a concept known as a cluster development. The Planning Commission approved that permit.

The Zoning & Planning Committee will hold a public hearing on the appeal at its meeting at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.