One fewer tower in new Calhoun Towers plan

Calhoun Towers rendering
The Minneapolis Planning Commission approved an expansion of Calhoun Towers that will bring 743 new apartment units to West Calhoun. Submitted image

A revised proposal to expand Calhoun Towers calls for adding a 26-story apartment tower and a cluster of three smaller apartment buildings to the 5.4-acre complex in West Calhoun — replacing earlier plans to build two 20-plus-story towers and two mid-sized buildings on the site. 

The Minneapolis Planning Commission unanimously approved Bader Development’s redesigned expansion on its Nov. 4 consent agenda without any opposition. Bader’s previous two-tower concept had been approved in 2018, but the firm returned to the commission in August after deciding the design was not financially feasible, according to documents submitted to the city.

The updated proposal calls for three seven-story apartment buildings to flank the 26-story tower — for a total of 743 new units. That’s just one shy of the total new units approved in 2018. 

One-fifth of the new units will be set aside as affordable housing for households earning 60% of the area median income, Bader said.

If completed, the Calhoun Towers apartment complex would have 856 units in all. The revised proposal would bring 769 new parking stalls, about 100 fewer than would have been built with the 2018 two-tower concept.

The buildings will be constructed from 2020 to 2027. Construction would begin in 2020 on the new 26-story tower, according to the plans. Work would begin on two of the three-story buildings while the tower is being constructed, with the third building, adjacent to the Southwest Light Rail Transit line, beginning construction when the SWLRT easements expire. A temporary surface parking lot will be installed in the early phase of the project and is required to be removed by the end of 2023, according to city documents.

The first seven-story building would be reserved for affordable housing, which the developer plans to lease out at the same time as the new tower.

The Calhoun Towers site is adjacent to the future West Lake light rail station and the Midtown Greenway. The project will include a city-required transit plaza with public space, seating, bike racks and landscaping. The developer will also add sidewalk connections to Abbot Avenue and West 31st Street, according to project documents. Bader intends to create a “campus-like” environment around the buildings, with well-landscaped grounds and a pocket park connecting to Excelsior Boulevard. 

The existing 22-story, 113-unit Calhoun Towers building was constructed in 1962, and, as the name implies, the plan has always been to add more towers. But those plans largely stalled out before Bader purchased the existing building and site in 2016.