Apartments proposed for Bennett Site East

Business, Featured, Real Estate — By on January 17, 2011 4:00 pm
Proposed Bennett East Site Buildings

A rendering looking northeast at the proposed Bennett East site buildings. The project is situated on the north side of the Midtown Greenway between Dupont Avenue (left) and Colfax Avenue (right). A bike entry off of the Midtown Greenway would be provided (lower-center).

A new 223-unit apartment project located on the north edge of the Midtown Greenway between Dupont Avenue and Colfax Avenue was supported by the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association’s Zoning & Planning Committee last week following mixed reviews by immediate neighbors. The project consists of three buildings ranging in height from 48 to 68 feet (four to six stories) along with underground parking.

The development team consists of Jim Gearen, who oversees the Twin Cities operations of Zeller Realty Group, along with ESG Architects for architectural and RLK Inc. for civil engineering. Aurora Development is implied on the plans as the developer.

The building would have a 2.7 Floor Area Ratio (ratio of building area to land area) and would occupy 53% of the land area. That, according to Gearen is 29% less land than what the zoning code allows to be occupied, which Gearen stressed meant more “green” space for the community. The project is seeking zoning variances and conditional use permits as to allow for the building to be arranged more vertically on the site as opposed to occupying more land and being shorter. Attendees of the meeting, which consisted mostly of residents of Midtown Lofts (located across Colfax Avenue from the site), seemed more interested in talking about parking, with one resident going as far as saying he wanted more focus on parking than on green space. Hopefully, he meant in the presentation of the project and not in what gets constructed.

Proposed Bennett East site plan

Site plan for the proposed Bennett East apartment project.

As for parking, the project is proposing 242 stalls, which is 10% more than the minimum required. the entrance to the garage would be off of Dupont Avenue on the northwest corner of the project. For those who prefer bikes, the project is proposing to create an entrance to a bike room directly off of the Midtown Greenway. Two bike stalls per unit will be provided.

The project is targeting residents who will have had apartments before or who have owned a home, so therefore those starting in their late 20s but mostly those who are downsizing from houses. Gearen said there would be “no wild party area” or “beach volleyball court,” a reference to the nearby amenity-heavy project Flux. He added that they would own the project a long time.

The project would continue the promenade along the northern edge of the Midtown Greenway, thereby connecting Dupont Avenue at street level all the way over to Bryant Avenue by sidewalk. A pergola would run along the Dupont to Colfax section.

Building materials would include natural stone (limestone), stucco, natural woods, cement fiberboard, and brick.

The site was once home to the Twin City Separator Company, a maker of grain processing equipment. The site was most recently home to several buildings owned by the Bennett Lumber Company. After acquired by Gearen in 2006, the buildings were demolished until the last remaining property facing the Greenway came down in 2010. Gearen had stated at the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission that the last building was structural unsound and that it was likely to collapse thanks in part to poor original construction, deferred maintenance from years of neglect, and looters who kept prying off plywood to steal the building’s large wooden beams. As a part of this project, the retaining wall of the Midtown Greenway would be retained.

Proposed Bennet East site

A look east along a newly constructed promenade along the north edge of the Midtown Greenway.

Thatcher Imboden

How cities work and change, how they are the product of their inhabitants and outside forces, and the resulting livability keep me thinking and dreaming about the future. I work in transit oriented development and have a background in urban real estate development. I am Past President of an Uptown business organization, grew up in Uptown, was on an Uptown neighborhood association Board, and am an Uptown and Lyn-Lake historian.

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