Developer pitches affordable apartments at Lake & Harriet

Lupe Development Partners is planning to build two six-story, 111-unit apartment buildings on Lake Street two blocks east of the Lake & Lyndale intersection. Rendering courtesy Lupe Development Partners

A Minneapolis development company is looking to build a pair of affordable apartment buildings two blocks east of the Lake & Lyndale intersection within the next few years.

Northeast-based Lupe Development Partners would like to build mirror image, six-story, 111-unit buildings at the Lake & Harriet intersection in the Whittier neighborhood. It’s hoping to have the first building in the ground by mid-2019 and the second building in the ground by mid-2021, said Steve Minn, Lupe’s vice president and chief financial manager.

“There’s been a hue and cry by policy makers that the city needs more affordable housing,” Minn said. “We are responding to that cry.”

Lupe plans on reserving all 222 units for households with incomes at or below 60 percent of the median in the Twin Cities region, Minn said. In 2017, that was $37,980 for a single person and $54,240 for a family of four.

The company plans to cap rents at 30 percent of households’ incomes for 30 years in exchange for subsidies from local and state government units. It would utilize the rent table published annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to determine rents.

Hennepin County, the Metropolitan Council and the State of Minnesota are the typical funding partners for affordable-housing projects, Minn said. Lupe has grants in place from the council, he said, and is in the application process for grants from Hennepin County. It also intends to apply for housing bonds with tax credits from the City of Minneapolis.

The two buildings would include a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, along with three townhomes on the ground floor, according to documents submitted to the City Planning Commission. Each would include 55 enclosed parking spaces, indoor bike racks, a bike-repair room and a fitness facility, among other amenities.

Lupe also plans on incorporating sustainability features such as a green roof, recycled construction materials and Energy Star-rated appliances into the project.

The company says Simpson Housing Services would manage six of the units in the first building, which it plans on reserving for people with disabilities. It would designate another three units for priority housing placement and case management by the Hennepin County Human Service and Public Health Department.

Lupe presented plans for the first building to the Planning Commission Committee of the Whole on March 8, where it was generally well received, senior city planner Peter Crandall said. Crandall said commissioners expressed an interest in Lupe using part of the building’s ground-floor space along Lake Street for retail. He also said there was some discussion among the commissioners about the building’s height and massing as it moves toward the neighborhood.

Commissioners also expressed an interest in seeing design differences between the first and second buildings, Crandall said.

Representatives of Lupe presented plans for the first building to the Whittier Alliance on March 12. Several residents in attendance expressed concern about a lack of parking, and several also expressed a desire for retail on the building’s ground floor.

Aaron Diederich, vice president of construction at Lupe, told the group that the company has found that a 50 percent parking ratio typically fills the need for these types of projects. He said Lupe would include retail on the site if it could lease the space before construction but would otherwise like to be able to use it for dwelling units.

The new buildings would replace the former Standard Heating & Air Conditioning headquarters and the former Paul Williams Tire & Auto, respectively. Lupe would ideally like the first building fully occupied before the end of 2020 and would like occupancy in the second building to begin by mid-2022, Minn said.

Karmel Mall expansion pitched

Also on March 8, the Planning Commission Committee of the Whole heard a presentation on a plan to expand Karmel Square, a building near 29th & Pillsbury that contains a shopping center.

The company Sabri Properties LLC would like to add 25,646 square feet of space to the 22,775-square-foot building, including a new 12,380-square-foot third floor. It would also like to add a skyway connection to the parking ramp in the Karmel Plaza building on the site.