Two big LynLake apartments approved

A disagreement over retail requirements could lead to further changes

LynLake apartments
Two new proposed apartments would add 227 units to LynLake. Submitted rendering

The second and third buildings in the three-building Lake Street Dwelling apartment project east of Lake & Lyndale have been approved, but a disagreement over retail requirements means more changes could be on the way.

On May 11, the Planning Commission approved Lupe Development Partners’ proposals for two seven-story apartment buildings on Lake Street between Garfield and Harriet avenues. (The third building in the project will have 111 units and open in November.)

As approved, one of the two buildings would have 132 market-rate units, while the other 95-unit building would be reserved for people making below 80% of the area median income (AMI) — now about $75,000 for a family of four. Eight of those units would be for people experiencing homelessness and 30 more would be for people making below 50% AMI. The two buildings would share an 89-spot underground parking garage.

In approving the project, the Planning Commission approved a floor-to-area ratio variance allowing the buildings to be larger than permitted by zoning code, on the condition that half of the ground-floor space in each building be devoted to retail.

“I think that having retail is important for the overall value and overall livability of a community,” said Sam Rockwell, who heads the commission.

Lupe vice president and chief financial manager Steve Minn said he’s appealed the requirement to the City Council, noting that retail spaces in his other buildings and in Uptown haven’t been leasing.

He said the requirement renders the project economically unworkable because Lupe won’t be able to build as many apartment units, and he vowed to construct six-story buildings with significantly fewer affordable units if the appeals are unsuccessful.

“These are the guardrails under which I’ll develop,” he said.

Rockwell said the project will benefit from nearby retail on Lake Street and Lyndale and Nicollet avenues and that Lupe should contribute retail space to the area. He said developers who aren’t able to lease retail space at market rates could consider leasing at lower prices to entrepreneurs or community groups.

The three Lake Street Dwelling buildings will have mostly studio, one- and two-bedroom units and amenities such as fitness and business centers, community rooms and bike storage. There will also be sustainability features that Rockwell praised, such as construction methods that will reduce waste.

Construction of the market-rate building could start this summer, and construction of the second affordable building is expected to start in spring 2021.