Commissioners receptive to plans for ill-fated Uptown site

A proposed mixed-use building
A proposed mixed-use building would add 150 apartments and two retail spaces to an ill-fated restaurant site at 2841 Hennepin Ave. Submitted images 

Planning commissioners are largely receptive to a proposal to replace a long-struggling restaurant site in Uptown with apartments and retail space.

Chicago-based developer Trilogy Real Estate Group brought its plans to convert the former restaurant space adjacent to the Uptown Transit Station into a seven-floor, 150-unit building before a meeting of the commission on July 9. Five restaurants — most recently, Piggy Bank — have rotated through the space since 2012.

The proposed apartment building would have two retail spaces off Hennepin Avenue and walk-up units along Girard Avenue and facing the Midtown Greenway. Architects with local firm ESG told commissioners they wanted the building to look and feel different from others along Hennepin and Girard avenues. The design calls for white paneling on the Hennepin side and more brick and dark paneling on the Girard side. The building would have 107 underground parking stalls and a large loading area in the alley.  

The plan is to have two small retail spaces totaling 2,700 square feet along Hennepin Avenue, as well as a building lobby space. The project would have a courtyard space facing the Midtown Greenway that would connect to a new public area that will connect Hennepin Avenue to the Greenway on the north side. Curb cuts would be eliminated on both Hennepin and Girard avenues. Overall, planners say, these designs will improve the pedestrian experience in the area.

“This project will kind of infill the missing link on the Greenway promenade,” architect Gretchen Camp said.

location of proposed development
Location of proposed development

A few planning commissioners suggested architects add rain gardens or solar panels to the roof, which designers said they will try to incorporate when the project is brought forward for approval.

Planning Commission chair Sam Rockwell suggested the developer include larger yards for walk-up units to give residents a sense of ownership. He recommended moving away from a “downtownish” all-glass exterior for the retail spaces to better match the Uptown neighborhood. 

The current site zoning is C3A, a community activity center district, and the project will require a conditional use permit to build higher than four stories. The Minneapolis 2040 plan designates the site as Transit 10, meaning designs up to 10 stories are generally accepted.

The project will need to be brought back to the full Planning Commission for approval. The developer has made presentations to the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association and the Midtown Greenway Coalition.