Five-story apartment approved on Curran’s site

An 82-unit apartment building will rise on the Curran’s Restaurant site in Kingfield. Submitted image

The building that housed Kingfield’s beloved Curran’s Restaurant will be knocked down to make way for a five-story apartment building.

The 72-year-old family-run business closed this summer due to COVID-19-related financial difficulties. Despite the pandemic, loyal customers and former employees traveled in August from as far as South Carolina for one last meal of hearty, griddle-heated fare.

The apartment building that will replace Curran’s at 42nd & Nicollet is expected to open without retail, but a first-floor lobby and club room will be convertible into commercial space should the need arise. 

The 82-unit apartment was approved unanimously by the Minneapolis Planning Commission on Oct. 19. It will have 37 lower-level parking spaces, a fitness center, a club room, a dog wash room. 

Plans for a rooftop patio pitched to neighbors this summer have been scrapped, and a small, square-shaped interior courtyard about the size of a studio apartment has been added. Natural light in nine of the building’s units will come only from windows facing the air shaft above that courtyard.

Developer Alex Gese of LJG Investments hasn’t said how much units would rent for, but told the Star Tribune that they should be affordable to people who work in the service industry in the area. Gese hasn’t said how many units would be affordable to low-income renters, and he hasn’t responded to requests for comment.

The Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit to rise to five stories and four variances, including one to reduce the minimum parking requirement to 37 spaces from 41 spaces. 

The Minneapolis 2040 plan earmarks all of Nicollet Avenue in Kingfield for increased density, calling for developments of between two and six stories. A six-story apartment will rise a half block to the south of Curran’s, at 4220-30 Nicollet, within the next year. 

The project for the Curran’s site faced relatively little opposition from neighbors at the October Planning Commission meeting, with a couple of nearby residents stating concerns that the building would make parking more difficult, hinder views and bring “gentrification.” There were also worries about the lack of retail in the project following the loss of Curran’s.

“[It] was more than a restaurant,” neighbor Karen Winkler told the Planning Commission. “It was a gathering place, a community resource and even more than that, it was family.”

Curran’s owner Dennis Curran — whose father, Mike, founded the restaurant as a drive-in in 1948 — agreed to sell the building to Gese for $760,000.

The city’s permit requires that work be completed on the project by October 2022. 

Nate Gotlieb contributed reporting to this story.

Dennis Curran, whose father founded Curran’s Restaurant in 1948, agreed this summer to sell the restaurant’s 42nd & Nicollet building to developer Alex Gese for $760,000. Photo by Nate Gotlieb