The Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve a 10-story, hotel-and-condo building at Lake & Excelsior.
The mixed-use building, being built by Elevage Development Group, will have 20 condo units, 100 hotel rooms and about 11,000 square feet of commercial space. The building will stand 114 feet.
Three residents of The Loop Condominium building on West Lake Street voiced concerns at the July 8 Planning Commission meeting about excess traffic at Lake & Excelsior and shared their displeasure at losing views of Bde Maka Ska.
“The whole idea of living by the lake is to have a view of the lake,” said one woman who told commissioners she moved to the building because she could see the water.
Planning commissioner Jono Cowgill, who also sits on the Park Board, said the area is a major transit corridor, which justifies the height and that the lake is best enjoyed from the ground floor.
“The adjacency to the lake is more about the experience of walking around it and being in the park,” he said.
The city does not have any policies related to protecting views from private property, city planner Peter Crandall said. The vote to approve included a conditional use permit to go above the 2.5-story shoreland overlay district height restriction.
Planners believe the project will result in fewer cars stopping at the site than the current gas station. A traffic study found the gas station attracts 700 vehicles each day, while the proposed building is expected to generate 633 vehicles per day.
The building will have two floors of parking with 89 spaces and 34 bicycle stalls. A bus shelter will be integrated into the building on West Lake Street.
The project has become taller and slimmer since its initial proposal. The building was initially pitched as an eight-story, 100-foot project with 107 parking spaces, but increased in height to accommodate wider sidewalks on both Excelsior Boulevard and Lake Street. The building is considered to be eight floors functionally, but a rooftop deck adds height that makes it a 10-story project based on zoning codes, according to city planners.
Hennepin County is planning to begin making improvements to the Lake & Excelsior intersection in September, according to project manager Drew McGovern. Elevage is working with the county to add new landscaping as part of the project, McGovern said. Crandall said the project should improve safety and traffic flow for vehicles and pedestrians.
The current BP gas station on the site is slated for removal this month. Following a remediation period, construction will likely begin in the fall. The developers hope to open the hotel in the summer of 2021.