Dinkytown hotel inches forward

Two demolitions are recommended, but the city is split on a third building.

The Minneapolis Zoning and Planning Committee meets with the public Thursday at Minneapolis City Hall. The Committee mets to evaluate the historic value of three Dinkytown buildings that stand where Doran Companies hopes to build a hotel.

The Minneapolis Zoning and Planning Committee meets with the public Thursday at Minneapolis City Hall. The Committee mets to evaluate the historic value of three Dinkytown buildings that stand where Doran Companies hopes to build a hotel.

Nicolas Hallett

A developer, a neighborhood and a city are split on what’s best for Dinkytown.

The Minneapolis City Council Zoning and Planning Committee on Thursday recommended demolition for two Dinkytown buildings that stand where Doran Companies hopes to build a hotel. But the committee voted to protect the third, contentious building — which houses Mesa Pizza, Dinkytown Tattoo and Camdi Restaurant — leaving the hotel project in limbo.

“The debate today isn’t on the merits of a hotel proposal, per se,” Minneapolis Assistant Attorney Erik Nilsson said. “It’s on the merits of these three individual properties [being historic resources].”

Last month, the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission voted to protect all three buildings on the potential hotel site. The two now recommended for demolition are located at 1315 Fourth St. SE and 410 13th Ave. SE.

The full City Council will make the final decision for Doran Companies’ demolition permits Feb. 21. The developer plans to build a 125- to 140-room mixed-use hotel on the land, which is also home to the University LifeCare Center and Publika Tea and Coffee Union.

An ongoing study will determine whether Dinkytown is designated as a historic district. Ward 7 Councilwoman Lisa Goodman said if experts decide that Dinkytown is not historic, Doran Companies will “practically” be given automatic authorization to demolish the properties.

“I think enough information has been given by the neighbors today to determine that this deserves a study,” she said.

That study could last a few more months, according to Minneapolis city planner Haila Maze.

Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association President Cordelia Pierson said the neighborhood wants growth with preservation of history in mind. She said the vote was a positive step because she thinks it should be up to experts to determine what’s historic in Dinkytown.

In January, Heritage Preservation Commission members said they denied Doran Companies’ demolitions because the properties in question — built in 1887, 1921 and 1955 — could contribute to Dinkytown being designated a historic district, despite a city staff report that said the individual buildings didn’t match historic standards.

CEO Kelly Doran said the Commission made the wrong decision and should have followed the city staff’s report.

“I think they took a misguided approach doing what they did,” he said.

Doran Companies General Counsel Anne Behrendt spoke for the developer Thursday and repeated the argument.

“There’s absolutely no facts that indicate that any of these properties have any particular significance,” she said. “We fundamentally disagree that the vibrancy and character of Dinkytown are tied to these physical structures.”

The properties up for demolition account for 14 percent of the Dinkytown buildings that could earn the area historical designation, said Senior City Planner Janelle Widmeier.

Behrendt said the company contacted 27 Dinkytown property owners about the proposed hotel project. She said 19 endorse the project while eight don’t endorse it or didn’t respond.

Behrendt added that Dinkytown is in a deteriorating state.

“I think what everyone agrees on is that Dinkytown is unique and that there is an energy worth preserving,” she said. “The disagreement is how you go about achieving that.”