Small Lowry Hill condo rejected

Lowry Hill house
A Lowry Hill couple planned to demolish their house near the Walker Art Center and build a five-unit condo building in its place. Photo by Nate Gotlieb

Plans for a three-story, five-unit condo building overlooking the Walker Art Center in Lowry Hill have been rejected by the Planning Commission.

The commission voted unanimously on July 6 to deny the plans by Mohsen and Julie Sadeghi for their property at 35 Groveland Terrace. The couple, who have lived in the existing three-story house on the site for over four decades, had planned to demolish the building in order to build the condos.

The Department of Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) recommended denying the project, which would have occupied a site slated for small-scale development of up to 2.5 stories under the 2040 plan.

The plan generally allows for up to three units in lower-density areas close to downtown, such as this one, but it says larger lots can have more than three units.

Carol Lansing, an attorney for the Sadeghis, stressed that 2.5 stories is guidance for the site, not the maximum allowed by law, and also said the project would meet other goals of the 2040 plan, such as promoting sustainable development.

CPED did not object to the number of units proposed for the site, but the department recommended denying the three-story project because it would be taller than allowed under the 2040 plan. The existing house on the site is three stories.

Commissioner Amy Sweasy, who made the motion to deny the project, said she was particularly concerned by the Sadeghis’ reason for proposing it — that they want to ensure the property is suitable for them as they age. “This is a project that clearly doesn’t meet the goals of the 2040 plan, let alone the law,” she said.

In comments to the city, two of the Sadeghis’ neighbors said they supported the project, arguing that it would be a long-term benefit to the community and enhance the look of the neighborhood.

Five neighbors opposed the project, saying the building would be ugly and out of scale with the neighborhood. Opponents also urged protection of the site’s 111-year-old house, the demolition of which was approved by the Heritage Preservation Commission last year. “This building is part of the historic fabric of Lowry Hill and should remain,” neighbor Ed Kodet wrote.

As proposed, each of the condos in the Sadeghis’ building would have had three bedrooms and about three bathrooms and been between 2,610 and 3,325 square feet.