Apartments, retail proposed at Franklin & Lyndale

A proposal would add about 240 apartments and 10,000 square feet of retail space to the northern tip of The Wedge. Submitted rendering

The current home of the Vision Loss Resources Center at Franklin & Lyndale is likely to become a mixed-use development with apartments and retail space. 

A proposal from ESG Architecture would add about 240 apartments and 10,000 square feet of retail space to the northern tip of The Wedge. The eight-level building plan calls for two linked structures: an L-shaped portion would wrap around the corner of Franklin & Lyndale, with its street level dedicated to retail, and a C-shaped portion would face Aldrich Avenue. 

Vision Loss Resources, which has been at the site since the 1940s, sold the building to ESG and is searching for a new home to better serve its clients. The site also includes a surface parking lot. 

The apartments would be mostly one- and two-bedroom units, with a few studios on each floor. Rents would range between about $1,300 for studios and around $3,000 for two-bedroom, two-bathroom units, according to ESG.

Parking would be “buried in the hillside” near the Interstate 94, project architect Bob Loken told the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association on Oct. 16. ESG plans to include about one parking space per unit and additional spots for retail customers, with 287 spaces total. 

The building would have several amenities, including a fitness center and rooftop community space with a view of Downtown. A courtyard in the middle of the C-shaped portion of the building would have a pool and common area facing Aldrich Avenue. The design includes some landscaped green space on the roof and on balconies. 

Some aspects of the design are still being worked out, Loken said. The elevation in the area presents some challenges as to where to locate loading areas for service vehicles, he said. Currently the plan calls for vehicle access directly to Lyndale Avenue, but they are reconsidering that design element. Primary access for vehicles and pedestrians will be on Aldrich Avenue. 

Some residents at the LHENA meeting expressed concerns over parking and distaste for the design. Several asked if ESG was open to adding solar panels to the roof and more green space. 

There are no dedicated affordable units planned in the building, which some residents criticized. ESG representatives said adding more market-rate units helps maintain more affordable rents at existing buildings in the area. 

The developer will present the project to the Planning Commission Committee of the Whole on Oct. 24. ESG will be seeking a conditional use permit to allow for eight stories on the site, which is currently zoned for four stories but will be raised to 10 stories under the 2040 plan. The project would also require a variance to increase the floor-area ratio.