City welcomes proposals for LynLake lots

surface parking lot on Garfield Avenue in LynLake
Minneapolis will sell its surface parking lot on Garfield Avenue in LynLake and has issued an RFP seeking affordable housing, public parking and a pedestrian thoroughfare on the site. File photo

Minneapolis has issued requests for proposal (RFP) to redevelop two city-owned LynLake surface parking lots into mixed-use residential and commercial spaces with public parking.

Development objectives for the project that the city will evaluate when selecting a proposal include affordable housing, public greenspace, public parking and design quality. Those objectives are used to nudge developers toward including desirable features, though the city is seeking a fair-market value for the sites.

“It’s a balancing act between leaving it open enough to get proposals and including development objectives to meet city goals,” said Rebecca Parrell, senior project coordinator with Minneapolis’ Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) department.

The sites, a large 114-space surface parking lot on Garfield Avenue near the corner of Lake & Lyndale and a single-lot property across the street at 2920 Lyndale Ave S., can be bid on individually or together, according to the RFP issued by CPED.

Garfield lot 

The city is seeking proposals for a four- to six-story mixed-use building including commercial and residential space for the Garfield lot. Any housing would be required to follow the city’s new inclusionary zoning policy, making at least 20% of units affordable to households earning up to 60% of the area median income (AMI) for rentals or making 10% of units affordable to households earning up to 80% of AMI for owned units. Buildings taller than six stories will be considered if the project includes more affordable housing or meets other city goals.

The development will be required to include at least 75 public parking spaces, with a preference for underground parking, or provide a plan to meet the needs of local businesses in another way. City Council President Lisa Bender (Ward 10) said the objective for public parking in the project made it difficult for the city to request more than 20% affordable units.

“Overall we left these trade-offs open for proposals to incorporate the different priorities, including deeper and more affordable housing which is a huge priority for the Ward 10 community,” she said.

Development objectives include a mid-block pedestrian walkway with public greenspace connecting Lyndale Avenue to Garfield Avenue in the alley where drivers access the surface parking lot today — a design element the LynLake Business Association had desired.

Design guidelines request architects match the development to the older brick and stone buildings at Lake & Lyndale. CPED would like the project to include improved pedestrian spaces and multiple access points along Garfield Avenue and to restrict vehicle access from Lake Street. The city is open to proposals that would convert Garfield Avenue to a two-way street.

The city will give the most consideration to developers who go beyond the minimum affordable housing requirements, Parrell said.

“Beyond that it’s really about, ‘How many development objectives are you meeting?’” she said.

The Garfield lot was developed in 1998, when the city and the LynLake Business Association came together to acquire parcels to support parking for local businesses. Businesses in the area helped pay for the lot through 20 years of special assessments.

Public feedback helped shape the development objectives, Parrell said.

Danny Schwartzman, the owner of Common Roots Cafe, has been closely following the process. He said that while he was impressed by the work CPED staff did on the project, he’s slightly disappointed with the resulting RFP.

He thinks the city could have taken its time with the RFP and made a bigger effort to reach diverse communities surrounding the lots.

The city hosted two public engagement meetings to get input on development objectives and held meetings with surrounding neighborhood organizations, the Lake Street Council and the LynLake Business Association. 

“We tried to do a good balance between the various feedback we received from community groups and balancing city goals,” Parrell said.  

Ultimately, he feels the city is limited by its desires to sell the land at fair-market value.

“You’re not setting the groundwork to have a creative proposal,” Schwartzman said.

Lyndale site 

The 2920 Lyndale Ave. S. site, between the Herkimer Pub & Brewery and the Uptown VFW, was appraised at a fair reuse value of $340,000. The city believes a mixed-use apartment building is ideal for the 5,269-square-foot site, but it will consider commercial-only proposals. CPED’s development objectives call for a two- to six-story design for the building. If residential, inclusionary zoning for affordable units will apply.

The city will also consider proposals for the 2920 Lyndale property that do not include a new building if a developer has a larger plan that includes the adjacent properties.

Proposals are due to the city by April 9. CPED will host an informational meeting for interested developers on Feb. 11 at 105 5th Ave. S. Once proposals are received, CPED staff will review plans and make a recommendation to the City Council.

Clarification: This article has been updated to reflect that developers may submit proposals with less public parking if the plan has alternate ways of meeting local business needs.