Sebastian Joe’s owners receive approval for Linden Hills commercial building

A proposed 17,000-square-foot commercial building in Linden Hills received Planning Commission approval on Monday. Rendering by Christian Dean Architecture via City of Minneapolis

The Planning Commission on Monday approved plans by the owners of Sebastian Joe’s for a new three-story commercial building next to their Linden Hills ice cream shop.

The 17,000-square-foot building will include office, retail and restaurant space, as well as a six-car parking lot, 31 bicycle parking spaces and two shower rooms for bike commuters. It will occupy a parking lot and vacant lot south of the Sebastian Joe’s building, across 44th Street from the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community.

The ice cream shop would not comment on the project when contacted by the Southwest Journal.

The Planning Commission’s approval comes about four years after Sebastian Joe’s received approval for a similar project on the property. But the business never went ahead with that project, with Sebastian Joe’s co-owner Mike Pellizzer attributing that fact to construction costs, the Southwest Journal reported in 2016.

Pellizzer told the Southwest Journal then that the proposed three-story building wasn’t big enough to support the cost of building it. He said they could build the project if they simplified the design, noting plans to invest heavily in the exterior building facade. But he expressed doubt the project would ever happen.

Mike Pellizzer and his brothers, Tim and Todd, opened their first ice cream shop, called Fratelli Ice Cream, in 1984, before opening their first Sebastian Joe’s in 1986 in Lowry Hill, according to the Star Tribune. The brothers opened their Linden Hills store in 1988, according to an interview Mike Pellizzer gave to the Hill and Lake Press.

At Monday’s Planning Commission meeting, no one spoke in opposition to the project. Four people expressed objections about the project in letters to the city before the meeting, with the main concern being limited parking in the area.

The project will include five fewer parking spaces than what city code requires, after the commission approved a variance to reduce the minimum parking requirement from 11 to six spaces. City staff recommended approval of the variance, provided the project include the 31 bicycle parking spaces and the shower facilities.

Staff wrote in a report that they don’t expect that the variance would increase congestion in the area or affect surrounding properties. They noted the area’s walkability and the site’s proximity to a bus route, bike parking and shower rooms for bike commuters.

The project will also include the consolidation of curb cuts, which will lead to the creation of at least two on-street parking spots, according to the staff report. Further, the report noted how parking demand for the offices will be highest during the weekdays, while parking demand for the retail and restaurant spaces will be highest on weeknights and weekends.

“With the convenience of alternate modes of transportation and the proposed mix of uses, the proposed amount of parking should be sufficient to meet average demand,” the staff report said.