Prospect Park committee approves new affordable apartment project

The building would offer micro-apartments to young professionals and students.

Kassidy Tarala

The Prospect Park Association approved plans for a new micro-unit apartment building on Essex Street and 27th Avenue Tuesday.

Pending approval by the City of Minneapolis on April 20, GB Group Properties’ building will begin construction this fall with move-in slated for summer 2019.

The Essex Apartments will have 32 total apartments, with 30 micro units and two accessible units. 

“It’s a unique offering. It will have all studios, and since most newer buildings have multiple bedrooms, this will provide a space that can benefit the single person who wants to live on their own,” said GB Group Properties Architect Jaret Giesbrecht.

So far, Giesbrecht said they haven’t faced any challenges in planning for the new building, and the Prospect Park community is responding positively.

John Kari, PPA vice chair of the Planning and Land Use Committee and chair of the Essex Task Force, said the apartments will increase housing diversity in the neighborhood.

“The project creates housing that is affordable and attractive to students and young workers,” he said.

They’re anticipating Essex Apartments to house approximately 60 percent young professionals who recently entered the workforce and 40 percent University students, Kari said.

He said micro-unit housing will continue drawing renters into the neighborhood and provide more affordable housing options for students.

“Construction costs are going up, so we have to get units that are affordable. These micro units are where the market wants to go,” he said. 

While the project is expected to be approved by the City, Kari said he’s keeping residents’ construction concerns in mind.

“Neighbors have been concerned about construction since the situation with The Arrow, but now we’re really making sure that new developers are using reliable contractors to ensure construction will be done on time,” he said.

In 2017, The Arrow Apartments, formerly known as Prime Place Apartments, came under criticism after construction delays prevented many tenants from moving in on time for the start of the school year.

Essex Apartments will only offer 10 parking stalls to its 32 residents, which has raised some concerns, said PPA Vice President Vince Netz. 

Kari said residents are also concerned about the area’s safety, especially for walkers and bikers.

GB Group Properties will add more lighting along 27th Avenue and to the back of the building, ensuring cyclists and pedestrians are more visible at night. 

“These are things we’re keeping in mind to create a safe street for walkers and bikers,” Kari said. 

PPA is also working with GB Group Properties to develop a biking corridor down Essex Street, heading directly to campus, Netz said.

“We want to make a safer, greener strip down Essex for walkers and bikers, which would be a huge benefit to students and staff of the University,” he said. 

Despite concerns, Netz said most residents have been receptive to the project.

Giesbrecht said he’s confident Essex Apartments will appeal to students and staff because of its proximity to the light rail station.

“Since it’s close to the U, we think it will interest students and recent graduates who want to stay close to the University but live on their own,” Giesbrecht said. “The easy access to transportation is definitely a bonus for people who don’t have cars.”