Apartments proposed for popular Como corner

Some residents have safety concerns regarding the building’s location.

Digital rendering of the proposed 1501 Como Ave. SE apartment complex.

Photo courtesy of the Department of Community Planning & Economic Development

Digital rendering of the proposed 1501 Como Ave. SE apartment complex.

by Ryan Faircloth

A new apartment proposed for the Southeast Como neighborhood has culled safety worries, though some longtime residents think the plan will draw much-needed diversity to the area.

The three-story, 30-unit building proposal was recently submitted to the city planner for review. The Southeast Como Improvement Association held a public hearing about the plans Thursday.

The development would be built at 1501 Como Ave. SE, taking the place of current auto repair shop Como Imports.

The proposal, which has been in development for six months, would include studio and one-bedroom units, said Greg Jansma, developer on the project.

Jansma said since units have fewer bedrooms and are priced around $1,000 to $1,300 per month, they may draw a different crowd than usual near-campus apartments.

“This just isn’t set up for [shared bedrooms], and that’s why this price point would never have a student clientele,” he said.

This apartment would more likely attract young professionals, Jansma said.

But the apartment complex’s design isn’t aimed to discourage students, who he said are welcome to sign.

Joan Menken, a SECIA board member and chair of the group’s zoning committee, said she would like to see the apartment draw an older or more professional crowd rather than students.

She said she thinks demand for student housing will eventually decrease, adding that the neighborhood needs more diversity.

“What we don’t have is housing for the professionals, the graduate students; for seniors, for people that want to stay in the neighborhood,” Menken said.

But she said the location of the development — at the corner of the neighborhood’s busiest intersection — brings safety concerns.

“It is a corner that has had … some concerns as crime has gone up in the southeast area,” Menken said.

The first-floor units are especially concerning because of their close proximity to the sidewalk, she added.

“You’re talking about four units whose doorways and windows are like storefronts, right there on the sidewalk,” Menken said. “I have not seen that in the past.”

Because of these concerns, Menken said she’d like to see how the development would fare at other locations.

“I don’t think anyone’s saying, ‘Don’t build.’ I think that there is a project going in here; let’s get the best we can get out of it,” she said.

Constance Sullivan, a retired neighborhood resident, said she wishes the development wasn’t just residential, as the spot has been a commercial corner for decades.

“A lot of us would like to be able to see some business on the ground floor because the plan is mixed-use, and this is not mixed-use,” she said. “This is solely residential.”

The plan Sullivan referred to — the Como Blueprint — is the neighborhood’s long-term development plan.

At the proposed development location, the plan calls for townhomes, small-scale mixed-use buildings and small-scale condominium and apartment buildings. 

But Jansma said the proposal and its lack of mixed-use shouldn’t be an issue and actually aligns with the plan. 

Menken said while she likes living near students, she’s excited for the possibility of seeing more diversity.

“What we need now is the diversity,” Menken said. “Healthy neighborhoods are diverse neighborhoods. They have a range of people.”

The proposal is currently under review but could be approved by the Minneapolis City Council as early as September, Jansma said.

If approved, he said construction could start as early as October and end as early as next May.