2700 Hennepin redo

Featured, Lowry Hill District, Real Estate — By on February 13, 2013 9:39 pm

The 2700 Hennepin Avenue site is currently home to a now-defunct gas station. It’s been vacant for a few years now and the property had gone into foreclosure. It has since been purchased back by one of the lenders and Nolan Properties Group (the same group that did the My Burger/Yogurt Lab in West Calhoun) is proposing to knock down the building and rebuild a slightly larger retail building.

The new 6,200 square foot building would be on the corner of 27th Street and Hennepin Avenue, with three retail bays facing Hennepin. A 21-stall parking lot is proposed to wrap the rest of the property and a drive thru is also proposed.

2700 Hennepin - Site Plan

The proposed site plan for the 2700 Hennepin project. Source: City of Minneapolis

The site is zoned C2, which allows for a wide variety of auto-oriented and urban-oriented uses. The drive-thru is allowed in the district, however the plans for the area discourage drive-thrus, single story buildings, and single-use buildings. Zoning should trump the plans though in this case, so I expect that the drive thru will be approved as well as the staff recommendations.

The site is 20,400 square feet, and with a building of 6,200 square feet, it ultimately amounts to a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 0.30. The zoning lot allows up to 1.7 (or in other words, about 34,000 square feet). The zoning district doesn’t have a minimum FAR, so the proposal is in compliance with the zoning code. However, it is low by most urban standards.

Development restrictions?
Folks who attended a neighborhood meeting reported on UrbanMSP.com that the project team stated that additional floors, housing, and underground parking were strictly prohibited due to deed restrictions. Speculation on my part, and unconfirmed, is that given that this was a gas station there is probably environmental contamination that would make housing disallowed and the only way a developer could likely build underground parking or new footings underground would be to remove soil at a premium cost. I believe that it is much harder to get government environmental remediation grants for environmental contamination when there is a gas station involved and when the owner is still around to pay for it. This may (again, unconfirmed) explain the deed restrictions placed on the property by the previous owner.

Moving Forward
The proposal goes before the Planning Commission on February 19, 2013. Staff is recommending approval of the project with a couple of exceptions, reducing the lot by one parking spot due to a setback requirement and a number of design changes. You can view the designs here.

Site History
The site had been operating as a gas station for over 70 years. Before it, aerial images appear to indicate that a house was on the property. This would be consistent with Hennepin Avenue’s development from a parkway in the late 1800s to a commercial corridor in the early 1900s.

2700 Hennepin - 1920s

An aerial photo of the 27th Street and Hennepin Avenue intersection. The property outlined in yellow is 2700 Hennepin Avenue, which appears to be a house. This photo dates to the early- to mid-1920s. Photo courtesy of Minneapolis Public Schools; Edited by OurUptown.

Based on my research of City Directory data, the following businesses called the property home since 1930.

1990: Hennepin Avenue Standard Station
1985: Hennepin Avenue Standard Station
1980: Hennepin Avenue Standard Station
1970: Dale’s Standard Station
1965: Dale’s Standard Station
1960: Dale’s Standard Station
1955: Bob & Dale’s Standard Station
1950: Krause Standard Service
1946: McNair Robt B, filling station
1940: Lundquist Vernon H, filling station
1935: Standard Oil Co
1930: Standard Oil Co

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. Reuben says:

    This is only marginally better than allowing the existing building to sit empty….

  2. John says:

    Considering all the restrictions on developing this land, it’s really quite attractive. With Julie Snow as architect, she did attempt to create a very modern and colorful design, and uses lots of clear glass to make it pedestrian friendly along the street. Not a perfect project, but this is so much better than having it remain an abandoned gas station for potentially years and years.

  3. Sean R says:

    The previous proposal for this site was to simply pull the tanks, remodel the existing gas station building, re-stripe the parking lot and add a liquor store. I think this proposal is GREAT. The building is going to have a tall profile, and it’s in the middle of mostly 1 story commercial buildings anyway.

  4. Alex says:

    Total bummer about the drive-thru. 1) Enhances auto-dependent nature of one of our best urban areas. 2) adds a turn in/out right on Hennepin, which will only increase congestion. Why wouldn’t it be better to have one consistent sidewalk with no car cut-outs, and another 30-40 ft of retail space to make a consistent building from lot line to line??

    • Thatcher Imboden says:

      I agree that the curb cut onto Hennepin and the drive thru are two of the least desirable aspects. As for Sean’s comment about it being better than previous proposals, that’s great. I’m mostly disappointed that the City has done little since the Uptown Small Area Plan to create a zoning structure for the area that would result in what the community outlined. The Pedestrian Overlay was not extended, which I sort of agree with since it is overly restrictive. But the city should be looking at other zoning overlays that would address issues like curb cuts for corner lots, minimize FAR, barring drive thrus, etc.

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