New plans for 2900 Lyndale

Featured, Real Estate — By on December 17, 2011 1:30 pm

Greco Development, developer of Blue and Flux, has new plans for the site it owns at 2900 Lyndale Avenue. The site is now L-shaped and includes the parking lot behind the VFW. The plan calls for 176 apartments, 9,000 square feet of commercial space, and parking for the VFW and the building. Greco presented its plans on December 14th at the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association’s Zoning & Planning Committee meeting.

The proposed building would be built on the south side of 29th Street between Lyndale Avenue and Aldrich Avenue. the current VFW building would not be impacted, though the lot behind the VFW would be rebuilt so the new building can have parking built below it and housing above. The surface parking lot of the VFW would be slightly enlarged and would still be used exclusively by the VFW.

Site plan of 2900 Lyndale Avenue in Lyn-Lake

This site plan of the 2900 Lyndale Avenue redevelopment shows new commercial space facing Lyndale and new apartments facing 29th & Aldrich. The surface parking lot for VFW would be rebuilt.

Floor plan for upper floors of 2900 Lyndale

This is a second floor plan of the 2900 Lyndale Avenue redevelopment, showing how the building sits above the VFW parking lot.

The new building would be 6 stories (73’6″ to be exact) and contain 176 apartment units. A 1,500 square foot retail space would be on the 29th & Lyndale corner while a 7,500 square foot restaurant space would be adjacent the VFW. Several of the apartments would line the lower floors adjacent the 29th & Aldrich intersection.

At one point, the project was considering buying the parking lot between the VFW and The Herkimer from the City of Minneapolis, who owns that land, but opted against it for several reasons. That land was going to allow drivers to the project to access from Lyndale the underground parking. Instead, that will be limited to entering off of the alley at 29th Street. VFW users would still have access through the Herkimer lot and through the alley into the lot.

The BKV Group-designed building will likely feature a decorative metal panel exterior using yellow and orange colors intended to reflect the Lyn-Lake logo. A large Lyn-Lake sign is proposed to run vertically down the Lyndale facade to help create a sense of arrival that those coming down Lyndale will know they are in that neighborhood. The sign’s inclusion will be dependent on city approval.

The 29th Street edge will have a somewhat unique stormwater feature, which would utilize a landscaped depression where rain water will enter to control rate and sediment prior to entering the public stormwater system. Flat bridges will connect the sidewalk to the street-level apartment units.

A rendering of the 2900 Lyndale redevelopment in Lyn-Lake

A rendering looking SW from the Midtown Greenway and Lyndale Avenue at the proposed new building at 2900 Lyndale Avenue in Lyn-Lake Minneapolis

The project includes 250 parking stalls, 178 of which are for the apartments, 68 for the restaurant, and 3 for the retailer. The existing 6 curb cuts would be reduced to 1. No parking variances are being sought with the project. There will be 38 short term bike stalls at the project.

There was an extensive presentation on shadowing of the Midtown Greenway, as BKV wanted to address the concerns that the Midtown Greenway Coalition raised about ensuring that some sun hits all parts of the trail surface in winter in an effort to melt ice. The shadowing models showed how existing infrastructure and buildings already shadow the Greenway extensively and how this building will add to it but not that much differently than if they built a four story building on the site. The building is located 15′ back from the property line, which it was said makes its shadowing impacts similar to the four story building. The neighborhood group spent a little time discussing this but did not make any formal comments on it.

The neighborhood Zoning & Planning Committee supported the project, as did the Board.

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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  1. Mike Kann says:

    I’m just a little confused here. I appreciate the effort to convert an empty and unused lot into something of value, however I have lived at (27th & Lyndale) for nearly two years now and since that point I have seen around 6 of these luxury apartment structures being built in the general area. Can someone please show me data stating the need for more of the same? (how about using the space to create an official year round “Uptown Farmers Market” similar to the structures used in Lowertown St. Paul. That way we can have access to 29th and move the current setup to a nice year round spot. Also part of the land could be an open green space and garden that current area residents can enjoy. The potential for an ice rink during the winter months could be a included as well) I also would love to see the demographics of the people living in places like BLUE, Flux, the new Cowboy Slims development etc. Personally, I have a modest career with a non-profit making mid 20k and can afford rent around 600-700 a month (barely). That puts me well below the market for one of these proposed “luxury apartment units” However, I don’t want to complain about my current apartment, I am happy and don’t need the full luxury treatment. But why aren’t there any developments being built that are half the size and provide new units that have modern features and rent ranging from 500-800. These buildings could also fit the urban landscape better due to their smaller size. You see plenty of that in other major cities but not Minneapolis.

    Also my other concern again is bringing more vehicles to an already over crowded car situation. I remember when I first moved here two years ago, I went straight to the Library to check things out. I discovered the local Uptown/Wedge paper and the first thing I read was “No train through the general Uptown area, train to go through Kenwood” Now with nearly 6 new massive buildings in those 2 years and countless new businesses generating interest in the Lyn-Lake, Uptown & Lowry Hill areas why haven’t new lightrail proposals being brought to the table? All of these units are building parking and encouraging more traffic. Minneapolis is one of the most forward thinking cities in the nation – farmers markets, endless bike trails, a genuine desire to reuse and recycle – yet for such a “I want to be urban” area like Uptown we keep building and encouraging car use. Also, making it more and more suburban feeling. When I lived in the suburbs of Chicago I drove everywhere. Then I got a chance to live in the city and left my car in the burbs and loved it. I would love to see Uptown/Lyn Lake take that approach.

    Okay that’s my rant for the morning! :)

    • Thatcher Imboden says:

      Mike, thanks for sharing. The issue of parking is interesting because area residents seem to have a mixed view on whether on providing parking is good or bad. There seems to be general concern from some residents when a new building proposes 1 stall per unit or less. In the case of Trader Joe’s, people are worried that the lot is too big. In Uptown, my general take is that most who are active in their neighborhood associations tend to want more parking built…though that seems to be changing. I would agree with you that the provision of more parking will result in more people driving because it is easier to own a car in the neighborhood.

      As for why aren’t there new buildings going in with more modest rents and fewer amenities, I guess my view is that it’s a mixture of there being a market for the high end units (there’s very low vacancy in general in SW Mpls as well as in the new buildings already built) as well as the high cost of land and construction. Bigger buildings can sometimes be cheaper to build and manage because there’s more units to share in certain costs (such as elevators, roofs, staircases, etc). I’m curious to see examples of more affordable apartment construction from other cities that don’t involve subsidy. If there’s a way to do it, I think developers would be doing it. I’ve heard before that construction costs are higher in MN in part due to our better quality of living, which is in part because of our better wages for those in building trades as well as the need to construct buildings to make them inhabitable in winter. No idea if that’s really true.

      I like the idea of a permanent home for a farmers market and a park, but to pull that off, we’d need some really creative financing folks to figure out how to pay for it.

  2. John says:

    Now that we have seen several BKV designed apartment projects in Uptown, I think people in this neighborhood should insist they use better quality materials on the exterior facades of their new projects. The Lake and Knox development( and the Flux to a slightly lesser extent) look very cheaply done and will not age well. I am amazed by this given the high rent they will charge. Remember, you people in Uptown will have to live with these buildings for many decades.

    • LHENA-Wedge Resident says:

      John..great comments
      Unfortunately, no one can enforce to use better materials by any ordinance or codes.
      It is expensive to developers to use brick and stone but construction is 60% or more in labor.
      So, if they are willing to, they can.
      Someone in the city should look into making this better materials into code or ordinance.

      • John says:

        I do not live in your neighborhood, but I think the feedback in your strong neighborhood groups in Lyn-Lake and Uptown have some clout with developers. The issue of using good quality materials on the exterior should be brought up when they present their proposals at your meetings. This is NOT a superficial issue for your neighborhoods. Many of these new apartment complexes are going to deteriorate quickly.

  3. Jon says:

    Looks great!

    • John says:

      I’m in agreement with you that it looks great (from the rendering). However, I think there need to be careful scrutiny by the planning department of the quality of the exterior materials used on the facade. Otherwise, I think the building will be a bust for the neighborhood. Lyn-Lake does not need another project like “The Murals” with its shoddy use of materials.

  4. Anthony R says:

    I am SO sick and tired of every single spare and vacant piece of land being used for “luxury” apartments and condos!?!?!? I’m sorry…did you mean to say – Thatcher – that there isn’t a need for affordable housing in Minneapolis?!?! Are you kidding me?!?!

    Welcome to the gentrification of Lyn-Lake and Uptown!!!

    • Thatcher Imboden says:

      Anthony, please explain how you came up with the idea that I don’t want affordable housing in Uptown or Minneapolis?

      Actually, I feel quite the opposite. I believe strongly that we need housing at varying price points and that we need far more housing for the working class. I’ve been pretty consistent in saying that I don’t believe that you can build immediate “affordable” housing without subsidies, but I think the community and government fails to work towards trying to ensure that we will have an adequate affordable housing stock.

      New construction is expensive. Land is expensive. US Government has little control of controlling land or construction prices. So therefore we can either subsidize housing or we can try as a community and local government to manage supply and demand the best we can, usually through supply regulation.

      I look at the condo conversions that took place in the early to mid 2000s as an example of what happens when there isn’t enough supply of housing in a local market. The units that had the biggest upside for the investor generally were older buildings that needed upgrades and it was viewed as more beneficial to the investor to convert them to ownership housing (condos) than to own them as is or to upgrade their rentals. That led to a massive push out of lower rent apartments from the rental market and as a result, I’d argue there was a slight increase in rental rates on the other units available due to more renters seeking less supply.

      I look at the apartments in Uptown that were built in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s as generally having less rental rates than the new luxury apartments. This is mostly because the units are new and construction costs and land costs are high. This has less to do with their luxury features, though that certainly increases the rental rate as well.

      I would contend that when those older buildings were built, they were relatively higher in rent than the existing rental stock, as this generally holds true city to city. So by today’s standards, those mid-century buildings are now aging and less desirable relative to their competition but offer an advantage that they cost less and still allow the investor a return.

      While you may not like what these luxury apartments or condos stand for, I highly doubt there will be affordable housing built on that site. I also suggest that it may be a better affordable housing strategy to buy dilapidated buildings and renovate them and rent them out as affordable housing than it would be to build brand new. I think we could have more affordable housing units that way.

      Building nothing could still lead to pushing out affordable housing if the area is growing in popularity.

      I’d love to hear your thoughtful suggestions.

  5. Matt B says:

    I tend to agree with you about older apartment buildings becoming “new” affordable housing (short, short version of what you said). I live in a Whittier apartment complex built in 1970, and pay $650/mo for a decent 1BR. While I receive no subsidies, my apartment is technically “affordable” by government metrics. In fact, an affordable 1BR (income-restricted ~<$33k/year for a one-person HH) at the brand new Greenleaf at Lyndale/28th are paying the same rent as me, for newer/nicer units, but it required a huge amount of subsidy to make it happen. I don't think that's a good use of our limited affordable housing resources.

    "Building nothing could still lead to pushing out affordable housing if the area is growing in popularity." – This makes sense to me. I would hope that this idea would catch on with the intransigent neighborhood orgs that seem to oppose nearly all development.


    Any updates on this development, post-appeal by the Greenway Coalition? Or City Walk? I haven't read anything new on either in months. Minnescraper has been disabled for a month now, we're dying for new news!!

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