Three stories recommended for proposed condo near Lake Harriet

A rendering of a proposed four-story condo building near Lake Harriet. Rendering courtesy City of Minneapolis

Minneapolis city staff is recommending approval of a proposed condo on 44th Street in Linden Hills, but at one floor lower than the developer proposed.

City staff is recommending approval of a conditional-use permit that would allow for a three-story condo near Lake Harriet. The developer, John Gross, has proposed a four-story condo for the site, which would also include an existing single-family home and shared outdoor space.

Gross needs the conditional-use permit because the site is part of a shoreland-overlay district, a zoning designation intended to protect surface waters and shoreland areas.

The designation limits development to 2 1/2 stories or 35 feet and also places restrictions on location, grading and filling and the removal of vegetation.

City staff wrote in a report that allowing Gross’ project to be over 35 feet would not be detrimental to the public welfare. However, they wrote that three stories would better ensure compatibility with the “scale and character” of the surrounding area.

Gross also needs a conditional-use permit to have the two buildings on the one site, a concept known as a “cluster development.” Staff recommended approval of that permit but voiced concerned that the proposed project would violate the spirit of a cluster development. Such permits are intended to  facilitate more of a townhouse-scale development, according to a city spokeswoman.

The condo as proposed would include eight units and a 16-space underground parking garage. Its exterior materials would be brick and glass. The building would be on the western portion of the site, while the single-family home and the outdoor space would be on the eastern portion. The project would also include a 10-space outdoor parking lot.

The site is a combination of several parcels, including one that used to be home to journalist and author Brenda Ueland. Gross’ plan to demolish the house on that parcel generated controversy earlier this year, with city staff recommending that the request be denied. The Heritage Preservation Commission voted to deny the demolition, but the City Council overruled that decision.

Walter Pitt, chair of the Linden Hills Neighborhood Council Zoning Committee, said he was pleased with the staff recommendation for three stories. His committee voted 4-1 to oppose the project as Gross had proposed it, voicing concerns about the height of the four-story building.

The condo as proposed would peek over the tops of the trees, Pitt said, impeding the shoreline view for people who use the lake. A three-story building wouldn’t impede shoreline views as much, he said.

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed development at 4:30 p.m. Monday in City Hall room 317.

Gross did not immediately respond to a request for comment.