Southeast Como to see new 40-bedroom townhouse development

The new development received pushback, with neighbors citing a lack of parking and poor community engagement.

A residential street is wet by an afternoon rain shower in the Como neighborhood on Tuesday, April 28, 2020.

Kamaan Richards

A residential street is wet by an afternoon rain shower in the Como neighborhood on Tuesday, April 28, 2020.

Caitlin Anderson

The city’s Planning Commission has approved a 40-bedroom townhouse in Southeast Como, despite pushback from neighbors.

GGR Restoration, LLC, an entity related to the longtime University of Minnesota-area housing developer Go Gopher Rentals, LLC, can move forward with a project to construct a townhouse development of eight units in Southeast Como. Prior to the city’s approval of the project this week, neighbors expressed discontent about a lack of parking and poor community engagement.

“It’s a great city-type, urban townhouse development,” said Mike Swedahl, a representative with Go Gopher Rentals, at the Planning Commission meeting this week. 

The three-story development, called the Cornerstone Townhouses, will be located at 1800 and 1806 Como Ave. SE, about two blocks east of Black Coffee and Waffle Bar. It would include 40 bedrooms — five bedrooms per unit — with eight off-street compact parking spaces and at least 40 spaces for bike storage. Units will be market-rate.

Prior to approval, the Southeast Como Improvement Association sent a letter to the city asking the developer to resubmit the project’s plan with changes. SECIA requested space for deliveries without impeding bike lanes, other public realm features, a meeting with SECIA representatives and for planning commissioners to oppose the developer’s request to allow less parking on the site.

The neighborhood association is also concerned that the development does not add affordable housing to the area.

Parking has been an ongoing point of discussion and confusion for the area. With the city’s zoning in the University Area Overlay District where the project is located, the developer is required to provide 20 parking spaces unless it receives city permission for less. But under the city’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan, no parking spaces are required.

At the city meeting, Swedahl said he would be willing to work with the community, but neighbors said the developer has not yet tried to meet with them. While a meeting is not required, often a developer meets with neighbors prior to submitting an application to the city to alleviate community concerns.

According to a letter sent to the neighborhood, the development team said they would have an informative meeting about the project in late August at the site. Representatives with the development team did not respond to the Minnesota Daily’s request for comment.

Cody Hoerning, a member of SECIA’s executive committee, said a lack of parking in a new student-focused development presents a problem for neighbors.

“With … students, they’re not just bringing one car per five-bedroom unit; often, there’s many more. In our experience … they end up parking on the road,” he said.

Go Gopher Rentals has pitched, built and managed many housing structures in the University area, including apartments in Prospect Park and Marcy-Holmes. In addition, GGR Restoration will also soon be constructing a duplex in Southeast Como at 1048 23rd St. SE., according to letters sent to nearby homeowners. 

SECIA President Karl Smith said the neighborhood has seen an overall increase in similar student-focused housing proposals recently.

“They’re just coming with a vengeance — they’re just popping up like crazy,” Smith said.

The developer will begin replacing current buildings at the site starting around September 1, according to city documents.