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New plans revealed for Dinkytown McDonald’s development: shorter and wider footprint

The new seven-story proposal will overtake the site of Subway, Pizza Hut and TCF Bank.
Image by Courtesy of City of Minneapolis

A concept rendering for the large-scale residential project, which would redevelop the site of McDonald’s, Subway and TCF Bank

A large-scale residential project to redevelop the site of McDonald’s and other Dinkytown businesses has reemerged with plans for a lower height and a wider footprint. 

Developer CA Ventures, LLC and architect BKV Group presented updated plans — on the development proposed at the site of Dinkytown McDonald’s, Dinkytown Wine and Spirits and other businesses —  to the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association on Wednesday. The new plan cuts down the height of the residential building to seven stories and now also encompasses the site of Pizza Hut, Subway and TCF Bank. 

After a nearly yearlong process of working with city staff and community members, the newest proposal falls into better alignment with the city’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan and other community guidelines, city stakeholders said. The tall height and density previously created major obstacles for the development team.

“I’m really happy with where we’re at and how it evolved,” said Ryan Sadowy, senior director of development for CA Ventures. “Ultimately, we want to be a part of the community and want everybody to be happy with the development, so I think we’re getting closer to that.”

The newest plan includes 300 units with 834 bedrooms and 29,800 square feet of commercial space, according to city documents.

Affordable housing units, which are required by the city, and affordable retail space for small local businesses would be included in the development. Other amenities include enhanced and integrated bus stops, widened pedestrian and bicycle lanes, and an alley running between and parallel to 14th Street Southeast and 15th Street Southeast that pedestrians will be able to walk through. 

The alley will have pedestrian enhancements and art — an idea that some neighbors thought would be a good addition.

“It could be a genuinely exciting thing to see,” said MHNA President Vic Thorstenson.  

Irv Hershkovitz, owner of Dinkytown Wine and Spirits and multiple other properties included in the project, said the development team approached him about selling the extra parcel where Subway and others currently sit. Hershkovitz said he told them they would need to get TCF — which has a long term lease — to accept. 

Hershkovitz said he’s already looking for new property in the area.

In August last year, neighbors first heard a proposal for a 16- or 25-story tower, which was hotly debated for not conforming to city and community planning guidelines for the area. The plan was later altered to be 10 stories.

Then, in February, the project failed to garner support from the City Council, which effectively stalled progress. 

At the time, the city planner assigned to the project, Lindsey Silas, said significant changes would be needed in order for the development team to be able to return with a new land-use application for consideration.

“It’s been a difficult process to no fault of anyone’s,” Sadowy said, referring to the timing of incorporating the 2040 plan, which went into effect Jan. 1.

Neighbors at the Wednesday meeting expressed concern mostly about the building’s bulk, asking that improvements be made to make the site look like separate buildings instead of just one large structure. The desire for a grocery store was also brought up, which Sadowy said the team is still attempting to implement into the commercial space.

McDonald’s would also come back to the site, he added.

“I think they’re gonna be successful after they do make some alterations,” Thorstenson said.

The development team plans to submit a land-use application to the city’s Planning Commission next month. If approved, construction would likely start by summer of 2021, Sadowy said. 

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