Student housing developments in the University District area

UPDATED FOR WEB: Dinkydome project passes City Council; Florence Court plan denied by HPC; PPERRIA likes Campus Crossroads plan

Below is a summary of some potential student housing projects, both large and small, that are under construction, being reviewed or on the horizon near the University of Minnesota. Information is current as of mid-July 2008, unless otherwise noted.

Campus Crossroads

Washington Avenue Southeast between Oak and Ontario streets (in the footprint of current businesses such as Harvard Market, Campus Pasta and Pizza, and Oak Street Cinema.)
Units: 175 (tentative)
Owner: Opus Northwest (pending purchase agreement)

Preliminary plans include an eight-story mixed-use development with retail on the ground floor, apartments in the seven floors above, and underground parking. CVS/Pharmacy has been identified as a possible commercial tenant.

Becca Farrar, senior planner with the Minneapolis Department of Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED), said that, based on conversations with a project architect, she expects an application by the end of July. The project could go before the Planning Commission and City Council this fall. As planned, the project would be contingent on some rezoning approvals, Farrar said. Dave Menke, vice president of real estate development for Opus, told the Star Tribune in July that Opus hopes to complete the project by fall 2010.

_Update: PPERRIA reaches “memorandum of agreement” with Campus Crossroads developer and architects*
Read our report of the July presentation about the project to the PPERRIA board_ here

Sydney Hall and Dinky Dome Redevelopment
1500–1506 SE Fourth St;
310–316 15th Ave. SE
Units: 198
Owner: Doran Companies

Plans for the 13-story mixed-use development call for ground floor retail with dwelling units above and the simultaneous rehabilitation of the Dinky Dome. It would provide 192 underground parking spaces for residential tenants and 23 surface parking spaces for both residents and retail patrons.

The project stalled in mid-June when the Planning Commission denied rezoning and variance requests, saying the project was too tall for its location.

A revised plan increased the distance between the edge of the building and the property line, among other changes.

Update: In late July, the City Council granted an appeal by the developer, with a long list of conditions, which include:

— Final plans for the Dinky Dome shall be approved before building permits for the new addition are issued;
—at least 50 percent of the Southeast Fourth Street elevation above the first floor shall be stepped back 10 feet from the property line;
—architectural elements, including recesses, projections, and windows, shall be included in certain areas, and the building shall not contain blank, uninterrupted walls that do not include window, entries, recesses, projections, or other architectural elements that exceed 25 feet;
— clearly identifiable pedestrian access to the surface parking area from the Southeast Fourth Street sidewalk shall be provided; and
— a decorative, ornamental metal fence shall be provided adjacent to the parking and loading adjacent to the southeasterly property line in lieu of required landscaping and screening.

The conditions include deadlines for work, as well; all work on the Dinky Dome must meet Secretary of the Interiors standards for rehabilitation and must be completed by July 25, 2010; and site improvements required by Chapter 5230 or by the Planning Commission shall be completed by July 25, 2009, or the permit may be revoked for non-compliance.

Florence Court
1022 University Ave. SE
Units: unknown; tentatively 190–200 bedrooms
Owner: Clark Gassen

The project involves the redevelopment of historic Queen Anne-style rowhouses, built in 1886.

Update: On Aug. 18, the project came before the city’s Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC), which approved some “certificates of appropriateness,” but with some major conditions — most important, the denial of the demolition of four “non-contributing” buildings adjacent to the larger 1886 apartments, which were not a subject of that particular review. You can read the report and the HPC’s actions here.

The denial will likely will require a reworking of the developer and architect BKV Group’s plans.

The developer has met with the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association’s (MHNA) Land Use Committee on several occasions. Committee Chair Jo Radzwill said the original plans for the redevelopment showed four separate buildings connected by a skyway, with townhomes on the bottom and smaller units above. Revised plans showed changes to the walkways, so they don’t looks as much like skyways, she said. Plans presented at a July 10 Planning Commission Committee of the Whole meeting showed a previously open underground parking area covered, with more townhouses added above, according to Radzwill.

At that July 10 meeting, Planning Commission members asked the developer to try to make the project look “more like individual buildings,” according to Hilary Dvorak, senior city planner and staff contact for the project. A formal project application is expected in the next couple of months.

In July, the MHNA board voted not to support the project at this time, citing the large number of bedrooms in some of the units and saying that the plans don’t complement the historic part of Florence Court.

Jefferson at Berry
950 Jefferson Commons Circle, St. Paul (behind Hubbard Broadcasting)
Units: 150; 552 bedrooms
Owner: JPI

These new student-rental apartments — on roughly 4.25 acres at the northwest intersection of Territorial Road and Berry Street — were completed in April 2008. The first residents moved in May 17, and 64 percent of the units are currently pre-leased, said Angelia Jarvis, director of community operations for the development.

The Lodges of Dinkytown
1309, 1315, 1317, 1323, 1331, 1335 SE Eighth St.
Units: Three units per address, with five bedrooms per unit (six “Lodges” with 90 bedrooms)
Owner: Tim and Karen Harmsen

The Lodges are currently five separate triplexes in a row, with a sixth to begin construction in mid-September. Tim Harmsen, who owns Dinkytown Rentals with wife Karen, said the projects, decorated in the interior with a North Woods theme, could have been built as a single large development on the six lots, but students prefer the smaller setting. “I think it maintains the character of the neighborhood… versus a big monolith — a big apartment building.” The triplexes have gray siding, partial stone fronts and shingled porches.

The first five triplexes could be finished by Aug. 15. Close to 87 percent of the units are pre-leased, Harmsen said. Construction will begin on the last triplex, 1323 SE Eighth St. in about a month and a half.

The Cottage
1120 SE Eighth St.
Units: Two units with three bedrooms each
Owner: Tim and Karen Harmsen

Like The Lodges, The Cottage would have a themed interior to match its name and come with off-street parking in the rear.
A site-plan review was approved by CPED staff in May, demolition and building permits were issued, and the foundation for the new project was recently poured, but staff found it had issued the building permit in error since the property’s lot size necessitated a variance. A stop-work order was issued. The project was initially planned for completion before the 2008–2009 school year, but stalled again when the Minneapolis Board of Adjustment denied the builder the necessary variance to reduce the minimum lot area to allow for a new duplex, saying it does not fit in with the character of the neighborhood. Harmsen is appealing the decision.

1217 Yale Ave. (project name unknown)
Units: Four units with five bedrooms each
Owner: Clark Gassen

Demolition of the previous home occurred in June, and the current project is slated to be finished by Sept. 1. Each unit of the two-story, 20-bedroom four-plex will have a full basement, with a total of five surface parking spaces on the west side of the development, according to Jason Klohs of One Call Property Solutions, the builder on the project. Fiber cement siding will be used, and an extra half-bath will be located on the main floor of each unit. Clark Gassen, the owner of the property said the project is centered on “upper graduates” from Augsburg College and the University of Minnesota, and that several renters moving in this fall are international students.

633–635 SE Ontario St. (project name unknown)
Units: Six units with five bedrooms each
Owner: James Eischens (633), Pop Goes The Weasel, LLC (635)

Builder Jason Klohs said the three-story project will feature “green” elements such as tankless hot water heaters, fiber cement siding, high-efficiency windows, solar electric and solar thermal, LED lights, and as many as six mopeds available for rent. Nine
surface-level parking spaces and a privacy fence are also part of the plan.

Klohs said he planned to submit a formal application in July, with the goal of completing the project by Jan. 1. He said he intends to meet with representatives from the Prospect Park/East River Road Improvement Association (PPERIA) before presenting the application to the city.

1015 SE Seventh St. (project name unknown)
Units: Three units with five bedrooms each
Owner: Bryan Spille

The Classic City Apartments website describes the 2,400-square-foot units as “Victorian Townhomes.” Each unit has two bedrooms in the basement and three on the second floor, with full baths on both floors. The main level of each unit includes a half bath, living room and kitchen with a dining area. Classic City Apartments advertises rental availability starting this fall.

1810 Washington Ave. S., former Grandma’s Saloon (project name unknown)
Units: Unknown
Owner: Alatus Management

The city was shown initial plans for a 30-story rental high-rise project, but Senior City Planner Emily Stern said the exact number of stories could fluctuate, as a formal plan had yet to be submitted, as of mid-July.

Alatus owns the property at 1810 Washington Ave. S. and bought the adjacent Seven Corners Municipal Parking Ramp from the city in a deal approved in July 2007. A city press release sent shortly after the deal was reached said housing and “street-level retail” were possible at the site and that, per the purchase agreement, LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council was a requirement for any new development there.

last revised: August 29, 2008