Historic Dinkytown houses may be demolished for new apartments

The new apartments would house 65 micro-units, developed by North Bay Companies.

Three houses under consideration for demolition are seen in Marcy-Holmes on Sunday, April 5. The site could be host to a potential project with micro-unit apartments.  

Caitlin Anderson

Three houses under consideration for demolition are seen in Marcy-Holmes on Sunday, April 5. The site could be host to a potential project with micro-unit apartments.  

Caitlin Anderson

Three potentially historic houses in Marcy-Holmes may be demolished to make way for new student-focused micro-unit apartments.

The houses’ historical significance will be considered this week by the City of Minneapolis’ Heritage Preservation Commission, which will determine whether or not they will be demolished. Neighbors raised concerns in a letter sent to city officials about the project’s impact on the historic character of the area and affordable housing. The project is being led by developer North Bay Companies.

If the demolition is approved this week, more than 30 affordable housing units could be lost, according to city documents.

“[The houses] are part of a really early and old historic use in Dinkytown [where] before there were large apartment blocks, there were rooming houses,” said Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association President Vic Thorstenson. “That’s part of that fabric of the community.”

The properties are located at 406 11th Ave. SE., 410 11th Ave. SE and 1103 4th St. SE in Dinkytown.

The Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association had already canceled its land-use meetings for the month due to COVID-19-related complications, said Chris Lautenschlager, executive director of MHNA.  

The neighborhood association now wants more time to discuss and organize a response. In a letter to City Council member Steve Fletcher dated March 24, MHNA asked for help in postponing the HPC approval, currently set for Tuesday.  

North Bay brought the project to the neighborhood in early February, explaining its intent to demolish the houses and providing some details on the plan. At the meeting and in recent city documents, the development team said the project would be six stories and have first-floor commercial space, 65 micro-units and 15 parking spaces.

Daniel Oberpriller, the owner of North Bay, said the project would add to the supply of housing stock in the area, both helping students live closer to campus and bringing prices down in the process.

All of the houses were constructed in 1901 and designed by a Minneapolis-designated “master architect” Willam Kenyon. Several of Kenyon’s buildings have already been deemed historic, which North Bay argued in its application means that less significant buildings designed by him can be demolished without destroying his legacy. 

Oberpriller said his plan for the properties is better than what the houses can currently provide in terms of quality. 

“They’re really dilapidated,” he said. “The current housing there is really just unsafe and really old.”

But Thorstenson said losing affordable houses near campus could displace people who need a low-cost option.

Plans indicate that units would cost around $1250 to $1350, but the project would also include affordable units to adhere to Minneapolis inclusionary zoning policy, Oberpriller said.

A land-use application for the project has not yet been submitted. Oberpriller said North Bay plans to present finalized project plans to the neighborhood association closer prior to submitting the application.

Two other micro-unit apartments on the block have already been proposed by North Bay. Currently, one development called “Trademark” is under construction and will likely be open by the fall.