15-story tower proposed in Uptown

proposed 452-unit apartment building
A proposed 452-unit apartment building would become the tallest building in Uptown. Submitted image

A proposed 15-story apartment tower would redraw the Uptown skyline, rising on a vacant plot of land just east of the mall formerly known as Calhoun Square.

Early plans call for a J-shaped building with 452 apartments aimed at young professionals, 307 indoor parking spaces and more than 11,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space facing Lake Street. Parking would be distributed throughout the building’s lowest five levels, though the garage wouldn’t be visible from Lake Street or Fremont Avenue.

The building would require a conditional-use permit for height, since the Minneapolis 2040 plan calls for developments of between two and 10 stories on the site.

The developer, St. Louis-based LOCAL Ventures, said the project merits the extra height because of the neighborhood’s walkability and proximity to high-frequency public transit.

“It’s kind of like the ideal site to put density from our perspective,” Marina Malomud, the company’s vice president of development, told the South Uptown Neighborhood Association on July 1.

The vacant parcel at 1301 and 1409 W. Lake St. was purchased for $4.5 million by Northpond Partners in October 2019, around the same time the Chicago-based developer bought Calhoun Square.

LOCAL Ventures, which has experience building college housing, was chosen by Northpond over nine other groups to develop the site.

Rents in the building would range from just above $1,000 for a 350-square-foot studio to “somewhere in the $3,000s” for a four- bedroom apartment.

The apartment’s exterior has yet to be designed, but the BKV architecture group intends to include 158 studios, 118 one-bedrooms, 163 two-bedrooms and 14 four-bedrooms, according to tentative plans presented to South Uptown residents. The building would include a rooftop terrace and sixth-floor deck overlooking the shopping mall.

map of proposed 452-unit apartment building

“[The building] is something that people can live in comfortably that’s not going to break the bank,” Malomud said.

Local residents’ reaction to the proposal at the neighborhood Zoom meeting has been mixed. Some have said they appreciate the added retail space and added density and that they hope a high percentage of units can be affordable. (The full breakdown of rents has not been announced.)

Many have expressed concern over the building’s height, calling it “massive and not inviting.” “I think 15 stories is grossly out of scale,” Aaron Rubenstein said during the meeting.

The building would be the tallest in Uptown and the only in the neighborhood above 10 stories.

The site was slated for development of up to 84 feet in the 2008 Uptown Small Area Plan, but the 2040 plan increased allowable building heights in many neighborhoods well-served by public transportation. The 162-foot-tall apartment tower would be three blocks from the Uptown Transit Station.

The aim is to increase the number of people living in the city and the number of affordable units near transit centers.

Mary Bujold, president of Maxfield Research, said the Uptown housing market has remained strong but that units haven’t been leasing as quickly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said the area’s long-term popularity could be dependent on the ability for businesses to bounce back in the wake of the pandemic and the unrest following George Floyd’s killing.

The city of Minneapolis is reviewing applications for the project. LOCAL Ventures plans to conduct a traffic study and an environmental review.

The company hopes to start construction next spring and open the building to tenants in 2023.

Correction: A previous version of this story mischaracterized the plot of land where this development is planned. It is currently a vacant parcel, not a surface parking lot.