Student government and neighborhood association lobbies for housing affordability in Marcy-Holmes

Students and the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association don’t agree with certain aspects of the proposal.

Doran Companies and CSM Corporation will present plans for a 25-story apartment tower in Marcy Holmes at a Heritage Preservation Commission meeting in October.

Doran Companies and CSM Corporation will present plans for a 25-story apartment tower in Marcy Holmes at a Heritage Preservation Commission meeting in October.

Max Chao and Arianna Valenzuela-Zazueta

A residential project proposed for the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood could fill an entire city block, but residents and students aren’t sold on the project’s scale and price tag. 

Doran Companies and CSM Corporation are pitching several structures for a block along University Avenue SE near the General Mills site. Plans for the proposal will be presented to the city in October. 

The multifamily housing project calls for the construction of a 25-story apartment tower along University Avenue SE, a five-story L-shaped apartment building spanning the corner of 2nd Street SE and 3rd Avenue SE. The proposal contains one and two-story town home units between the two developments — totaling 374 units.

Ward 3 City Council Member Jacob Frey said the proposed block is well-suited for development.

“The General Mills site is [a] large and predominantly vacant space that is right for growth in some form,” Frey said.

Tony Kuechle, senior vice president of development for Doran Companies, said rent will likely cost around $2 to $3 per square foot.

The development will include amenities like common rooms, game and entertainment rooms, a fitness center, exercise classes and more.

“It’s going to be a higher-end residential development on a more expensive side,” said Peter Crandall, senior city planner with the City of Minneapolis. 

But some are concerned over the development’s scale and price point.

Chris Lautenschlager, executive director of the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association, said his organization is concerned with the height and placement of the tower. 

The 25-story tower would exceed the height of the Pillsbury A Mill’s red tile elevator, he said, which spans 16 stories. MHNA doesn’t want that.  

He said they don’t want the tower positioned right along University Avenue SE, either. 

“We would prefer it to be closer to 2nd street, not near … University,” Lautenschlager said. “We have no objections to the tower, however … we want to have more varied [layout].”

The proposal has also spurred resistance from some students, who hoped for more affordable housing options.

The Minnesota Student Association is working with MHNA in hopes of persuading the developer to reserve units as affordable housing.

This move is part of a larger MSA goal to cut housing costs across campus neighborhoods.

“Currently, affordable housing is the biggest issue in Minneapolis, second only to policing,” said George Abdallah, MSA’s governmental and legislative affairs coordinator for local advocacy. 

MSA wants 15 to 20 percent of the apartment units made affordable for students — priced around $1000 per month, said Grant Simons, MSA student representative to the MHNA. 

“We should have these opportunities for students to live in that area … in something that might be a bit newer,” he said.

MSA hopes to influence city officials by sending students and members to lobby at city planning committee meetings.

“This is the first time … that I can remember that the student body and [MHNA] are working together,” Abdallah said.

Doran and CSM will present plans for the project to the Heritage Preservation Commission on Oct. 2. 

If approved, construction on the buildings would start between spring and summer of 2018, Kuechle said. 

“The five-story … structure should be … opened in about 18 months. And the tower will probably take about 24 months,” he said.